Capital Punishment Powerpoint 2Presentation Transcript
Bias in The Capital Punishment System
Stats on Racial Bias
From 1995 to 2000, federal prosecutors sought Death Penalty for 183 defendants; 74% were minorities .
Of the 21 people on death row as of 2001, 81% were black or Hispanic.
Among black defendants found guilty of murdering a white person:
57.5% of defendants with " stereotypically black " features -- broad noses, thick lips, dark skin and hair -- were sentenced to death .
24.4% of men who were rated as less stereotypically black were given the death sentence.
Among black defendants found guilty of murdering a black person:
45% of the " stereotypically black " defendants were sentenced to death .
"In 82% of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were found more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.”
- United States General Accounting Office, Death Penalty Sentencing, February 1990
RACE OF DEFENDANTS EXECUTED IN THE U.S. SINCE 1976
BLACK: 425 people or 34.93%
LATINO: 91 people or 7.15%
WHITE: 692 people or 56.06%
OTHER: 25 people or1.85%
NOTE: The federal government counts some categories, such as Hispanics, as an ethnic group rather than a race. DPIC refers to all groups as races because the sources for much of our information use these categories. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976
RACE OF VICTIMS SINCE 1976
BLACK: 274 people or 14.51%
LATINO: 106 people or 5.41%
WHITE: 1394 people or 77.86%
OTHER: 47people or 2.22%
NOTE: Number of Victims refers to the victims in the underlying murder in cases where an execution has occurred since the restoration of the death penalty in 1976. There are more victims than executions because some cases involve more than one victim http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976
“ How Prosecutors Fabricated the Case Against Rodney Reed” - ROBERT McDONALD
In 1998 an African American male named Rodney Reed is accused of murdering a 19 year old, white, female named, Stacy Stites.
Over ten years later, Rodney still sits on death row awaiting his last appeal.
He got a new hearing due to “allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, suppressed evidence and contrary eyewitness reports that have simmered away for years” (McDonald).
What is wrong with this picture?
He is a black male, accused of killing a white female.
The female was engaged to an officer of Bastrop County.
Witnesses and some evidence were never presented in court.
The judge of his appeal hearing was the daughter of the original judge who convicted him.
The lead investigator in the case, Ed Salmela (and also a friend of Jimmy Fennel, her fiancé) committed suicide during the middle of their case.
Their apartment was never investigated, even though it was the last place Stites was known to be before she died.
The truck was given back to Fennel, even though bodily fluids were found on the passenger side.
Serving as a court-appointed attorney is an initiation to “real” legal work.
“ I was more or less dragged, kicking and screaming, into working on the death penalty.”
“ My arrangement with the law firm enabled me to spend a substantial amount of my time doing free legal work for poor people” (Tabak).
“ some sleep during the trial, and some even fail to call a single witness in their client’s defense” (Applegate).
AND, some never object during a trial.
Jury Selection- 5% of accused offenders face trial by jury.
Prosecution and defense try to “find a jury competent to try” the accused.
Allen Snyder “prides himself on achieving a death penalty verdict against as many defendants as possible, prevented blacks from participating in the jury” (Falk).
Capital Jury Project
Jurors tend to make decisions about the appropriate sentence prematurely.
Jurors were selected in such a way that those inclined to impose the death sentence were overrepresented.
Jurors did not understand the instructions on how to decide whether the capital sentence was appropriate.
Juries frequently believed that the law required the death sentence.
Jurors largely felt that the choice of punishment was out of their hands.
Both the racial composition of the jury and the race of individual jurors influence capital decision.
Jurors tend to underestimate the severity of non-death alternative punishments.
State Judges face re-election, therefore they are seeking to gain many guilty verdicts to look “successful” and “tough on crime”
Judges who hear appeal cases “serve as important rectifiers of injustices perpetrated by prosecutors or resulting from false eyewitness identification.” However, many judges were former prosecutors (Falk pg. 148).
In New York, there are 1250 judges. “These judges have little education. Some are not even high school graduates. They include hair dressers, state troopers, and phone company technicians, among others.” (pg. 147).
Prosecutors: withhold evidence that casts doubt on the defendant’s guilt, making statements to the jury that might bias them toward imposing a death sentence, striking people from the jury who might hesitate to vote for capital punishment, and other acts of misconduct.
“ One of the most atrocious suck confessions was coerced from two Chicago boys, aged 7 and 8, who were pressured by the police to confess to the murder of an 11-year-old girl. Interrogated without lawyers or their parents, alone and defenseless, the boys told the police what these “law enforcers” wanted to hear (Falk).
Falsely accuse and win “because the victim’s of false accusations and false prosecutions are usually poor and defenseless” (pg. 35).
“ Their own reelection depends on the public’s belief that the prosecutor has gained large numbers of convictions” (pg. 34).
Informing the Public
Created a Facebook Group
Posted information, links, and this PowerPoint presentation and asked people to comment.
“ How did this affect your opinion or change your beliefs?”
PLEASE COMMENT! WHATEVER YOU THINK / FEEL / BELIEVE!
Free Rodney Reed: He Is Innocent. Rodney’s Case on Film. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <http://www.freerodneyreed.org/?page_id=11>.
McDonald, Robert. "The Texas Railroad to Death Row." CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.
"Rodney Reed Hearing Stirring Bastrop County." KXAN News, 25 Mar. 2006. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=207906;article=14197;title=Against Death Rows>.
Robinson, Bruce A. "Facts about Capital Punishment - the Death Penalty." ReligiousTolerance.org by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 1995. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. <http://www.religioustolerance.org/executj.htm>.
Applegate, B. (2006). The Myth that the Death Penalty is Administered Fairly In R. Bohm, & J. T. Walker (Eds.), Demystifying Crime and Criminal Justice (pp.158-166). Los Angeles: Roxbury.
Falk, Gerhard. The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't, and How to Fix It . Praeger Publishers, 2010. Print.
Tabak, Ronald J. "The Egregiously Unfair Implementation of Capital Punishment in the United States: 'Super Due Process' or Super Lack of Due Process?" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 147.1 (2003): n. pag. JSTOR . Web. 14 Nov. 2010.< http://www.jstor.org/stable/1558124 >