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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 183792 Find in a Library
Title: Race as a Variable in Imposing and Carrying Out the Death Penalty in the US
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:30  Issue:1/2  Dated:1999  Pages:35-45
Author(s): Kristin D. Schaefer; James J. Hennessy; Joseph G. Ponterotto
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined previous reports by death penalty abolitionist groups that identified a racial disparity in the imposition of the death penalty in the United States since 1976.
Abstract: It built on the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice and private researchers who revisited the issue of race among incarcerated homicide offender and capital murderer populations in response to these earlier claims. Race and ethnicity data for the 313 homicide offenders executed in the United States between 1976 and 1995, the 3,054 inmates on death row between 1976 and 1995, and the 161 offenders removed from death row during that time were taken from the ICPSR Capital Punishment 1995 data file. Findings show that although whites composed approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population between 1976 and 1995 and blacks composed approximately 12.5 percent, whites were offenders in 49 percent of the murders during that period, and blacks were offenders in 51 percent of the murders for which racial identification of the offender was reported. Whites, who outnumber blacks in the general population at a ratio of 7 to 1, constitute 43.4 percent of offenders arrested annually for the commission of homicide. In contrast, whites were the majority among the executed capital offender populations, comprising 55 percent of the executed offenders, 56.6 percent of death-row inmates, and 56.8 percent of offenders removed from death row. The data revealed that although incarcerated homicide offenders tended to be black or Hispanic, executed capital offenders, death-row inmates, and offenders removed from death row were overwhelmingly white during the time period examined. The findings provided no evidence of disparate impact against blacks in capital punishment. The disparate impact was in the opposite direction. 2 tables and 19 references
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Comparative analysis; Death row inmates; Racial discrimination; Sentencing disparity
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