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May 5, 2016

"The only way to get rid of racial bias in death penalty cases is to get rid of the death penalty"

The title of this post is the subheadline of this notable new Slate commentary authored by Robert J. Smith, which carries the main headline "There’s No Separating the Death Penalty and Race."  Here are some excerpts:

The mix of prosecutorial impropriety and the exclusion of black jurors has always been a potent combination for injecting racial bias into death penalty cases and racial cynicism into the electorate. It undermines not only the legitimacy of the death penalty, but also the legitimacy of the government as an entity capable of rendering impartial justice. It robs people of the right to participate in their government, and it makes whole swaths of people cynical about the government itself and their role in it. Yet, even if the Foster case [now before SCOTUS] provides another rebuke of the illegal practice of striking jurors because of their race, 30 years of experience suggests that the court’s case-by-case reversals will not eradicate racial discrimination in jury selection. It still happens all over the country and continues to taint our broken death penalty system....

An optimist might hold out hope that although racial bias infects these older cases, the ties between race and the death penalty have loosened in more recent cases as the nation continues to make racial progress. Unfortunately, though, while the death penalty has become increasingly rare in practice, many of the remaining cases are still intertwined with the nation’s long legacy of racism. And, even in the cases with explicit, unconscionable racial bias ... current elected prosecutors, governors, and state and federal courts have failed repeatedly to intervene or object.

May 5, 2016 at 06:21 PM | Permalink


What comes first for folks who believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Bible and the chicken and the egg?
Well, it is the Ten Commandments. All those folks who go to church on time, put in more than a dime when they pass the plate, and expect to get into heaven. Yet they vote for politicians who pass the death penalty. What is the "death penalty"? It is the "kill" by all of you. The killing of a human. "Execution"? Buzz word for "Kill". If you are a good Christian then you must adhere to the Sixth Commandment. I know, you have a Sears Roebuck Bible and they have altered the Sixth Commandment to: Thou Shall Not Murder. No. It is Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Go sleep on that one when you are in the fourth pew and think that you are on a path to heaven. If you live in Texas you will not get a pass by Saint Peter when your time comes at the Pearly Gate interview. "Thou Shalt Not Kill!", he will exclaim as he pulls the lever and sends you on the pathway to Hell. You won't even get a handbasket.

Posted by: BarkinDog | May 6, 2016 10:20:08 AM

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