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NCJ Number: 158281 Find in a Library
Title: In the Shadow of McCleskey v. Kemp: The Discriminatory Impact of the Death Sentencing Process
Journal: New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1995)  Pages:271-312
Author(s): R A Rafferty
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 42
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of racial discrimination in the death sentencing process concludes that racial discrimination in the imposition of capital punishment is almost impossible to prove through intent and purpose, but the existence of racial bias is revealed through countless statistical analyses showing that although the laws may be racially neutral, they are being administered in a discriminatory manner.
Abstract: Black people are adversely affected by this discrimination. Historically, the Supreme Court has required proof of discriminatory purpose and intent in proving a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. However, in capital punishment the proof is in the impact. The appropriate method for remedying racially discriminatory administration of the death penalty is to allow defendants the opportunity to prove an equal protection violation through proof of impact. This method is articulated in the Fairness in Death Sentencing Act, which would give capital defendants the opportunity to show proof of past discrimination and force the government to consider the possibility that such discrimination might exist. This law would not place any unnecessary burdens on the government, which would have to respond to accusations only if the defendants proof was substantial. If the government keeps adequate records and is consistent in its sentencing, the need for the law would never arise. It appears that the only way to ensure that racial discrimination does not interfere with the basic right to life is to provide adequate safeguards through such legislation. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Law reform; Racial discrimination; US Supreme Court decisions
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