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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201855 Find in a Library
Title: Mass Legal Executions of Blacks in the United States, 17th-20th Centuries
Journal: Homicide Studies  Volume:7  Issue:3  Dated:August 2003  Pages:235-262
Author(s): Paul H. Blackman; Vance McLaughlin
Editor(s): Thomas A. Petee
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 28
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined mass legal execution of African-Americans by government entities in the United States, dating back to the 17th up until the 20 century, and specifically, the role of race in the sanction.
Abstract: Mass legal execution is defined as the execution of four or more persons for the same criminal incident by government entities following some form of trial. This study operated under the premise that these executions might reveal more clearly the greatest perceived criminal threats to the society. Mass legal executions were indicative that some crimes were capital offenses in the 18th but not the 20th century. However, for several reasons there is an incomplete record of mass legal execution of African-Americans or anyone else in the United States. This study examined mass legal executions in the United States from the 17th century to the 20th century and what they tell about the social climate of the eras in which they occurred, specifically regarding the place of African-Americans in society. African-Americans were clearly disproportionately involved among those executed, most notably before the formal end of the institution of slavery. Several reasons are presented as to why mass legal executions occurred in the past and why they have ceased to take place in the United States and include: (1) the nature of the offenses; (2) criminals had fewer rights at trials and generally no appeals made it likely that the sentences would be imposed at the same time; and (3) certain crimes were feared by society, particularly slave revolts. What remains today of mass legal executions is the occasional incident of government involved deaths of four or more persons in the process of law enforcement. Appendix, notes, references
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Abolishment of capital punishment; Black/African Americans; Discrimination; History of corrections; Minorities; Race-punishment relationship
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