Study: Killers of Black Men Less Likely to Get Death Penalty

Study: Killers of Black Men Less Likely to Get Death Penalty

A Loyola University study has found major disparities in capital punishment in relation to race and gender. According to its findings, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Loyola University Journal of Public Interest Law, there have been more than 15,000 black male homicide victims in Louisiana between 1976 to 2011, and those killings have resulted in three executions. (In those cases, 62 defendants were sentenced to death.)

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During the same time period, about 1,300 white women were murdered, leading to 89 death sentences for their killers and 18 executions; making the execution rate for killing a white female 48 times higher than for black male victims.

More findings from the study indicate the following:

  • 4,000 white males were homicide victims during the same span, with 113 killers sentenced to death and a dozen executed.
  • 2,438 black female homicide victims, resulting in 43 death sentences and 5 executions.
  • No white defendant has ever been put to death for killing a black male in the history of Louisiana

“Any justification of the death penalty must involve equal protection,” writes authors of the study, Frank R. Baumgartner and Tim Lyman. “The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that ‘no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ Here we have a class of persons, the families and communities of murdered black males, so denied.”