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December 4, 2019

Terrific new Intercept series on capital punishment titled "The Condemned"

I received an email yesterday alerting me to exciting news that "The Intercept has published "The Condemned,” an investigative series by award-winning reporters Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith focused on the modern application and history of the death penalty in the United States. Here is more from the email:

The death penalty entered its “modern era” in 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new set of statutes in the landmark decision Gregg v. Georgia. This new Intercept series examines the use of capital punishment since 1976 and is partially based on an analysis of an unprecedented dataset that The Intercept began compiling in the summer of 2016, on all individuals sentenced to die in active death penalty jurisdictions during the past 43 years.

Amazingly, this data did not exist. Previously available information was often flawed, and many states either do not track this data or do so in a haphazard way. The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects demographic and other data about states’ death row populations, but Congress has blocked the public disclosure of this information.

With this new dataset, now available on GitHub, The Intercept is offering journalists, activists, lawyers, and anyone interested in the topic, a single and comprehensive resource covering the state of the death penalty as it exists in the U.S. today. .

“We limited our inquiry to active death penalty states, to focus on capital punishment as it exists today,” write Segura and Smith. “We were curious not only about who had been executed, but how many people had been removed from death row — a sizeable but largely invisible population. We wanted to see how many people had been re-sentenced, commuted, or released; how many had died awaiting execution; and how long people spent on death row. And we wanted to see who is on death row today.”

Their findings show that capital punishment remains as “arbitrary and capricious” as ever –– and “that the ‘modern” death penalty era remains animated by the same racial dynamics that have always defined capital punishment,” writes Segura.

The series’s four initial stories have been written by reporters Jordan Smith and Liliana Segura: in “Counting the Condemned,” Segura and Smith outline the many ways in which capital punishment has failed as a policy, particularly in its racism, arbitrary application and failure to deliver on claims of public safety.

The Abolitionists,” also bylined by Segura and Smith, show how the abolition of the death penalty has become a bipartisan issue — and a national movement;

The Power to Kill,” by Jordan Smith, looks at the pushback against Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala after she determined that capital punishment is an unjust practice;

and “Death and Texas,” by Liliana Segura, shows that racial disparities on the Texas death row have increased even as death sentences decline.

December 4, 2019 at 06:48 PM | Permalink



It's terrific if all you want is a repeat of all anti death penalty material, without any balance.

Jordan and Liliana have been receiving rebuttals of many of their anti death penalty claims for many years and they have paid no published recognition of it and I doubt they ever will.

Just go to the link you provided “Counting the Condemned,” and go to the first paragraph where they discuss the dramatic reduction in death sentences.

"capital punishment has decreased dramatically. In 1998, there were nearly 300 new death sentences imposed in the United States. In 2018, there were just 43."

What was left out:

Death penalty crimes may have declined by 80% during that period, accounting for nearly the entire drop, plus there are the states or courts which repealed it, all of which were contrary to public support.

It's the same for about all the other issues they mention.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 5, 2019 12:53:17 PM

Little Dudù is wrong as always. Italy is a civilized country and abolitionist since 1877 (and with it in fascist times). In AD 1991 we had 2.000 murders, and American 25.000. Now we have 300 murders per year and America 17.000. Our murder rate is 0.5 per 100.000: i.e. a tenth of the American one.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Dec 5, 2019 12:58:46 PM

Another example is their

Race Looms Ever Larger as Death Sentences Decline"

They didn't even look at crime s committed s a possible reason for the alleged racial disparities.

As I sent them:


Race, ethnicity and crime statistics

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault.

Sharp: As the most common capital murders, those which are death penalty eligible, are rape/murders and robbery/murders, the perceived "disparities" (aka expected multiples) will most likely be even greater than the numbers, above.

"Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades."

"However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s."

When correcting for the Hispanic effect:

"Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years."



Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 5, 2019 1:11:18 PM

And within McCleskey they failed to reveal all of this, as do about 100% of law professors and all anti death penalty scholars, that I have read, on this case,

as I sent them


McCleskey v Kemp, the infamous race based death penalty case decided by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

Sharp: The US Supreme Court misunderstood the math involved. They ignorantly wrote: "defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks." Totally inaccurate. It was by odds of 4.3 times, or an odds multiplier of 4.3, which can mean a difference as low as 2-4%, as opposed to the 330% difference represented by 4.3 times.

SCOTUS blew it big time on this.

Furthermore, the database, which, allegedly supported McCleskey's charge of racism, did no such thing and was, completely, unreliable.

"The best models which (David) Baldus was able to devise (within McCleskey v Georgia (Kemp)) which account to any significant degree for the major non-racial variables, including strength of the evidence, produce no statistically significant evidence that race plays a part in either [the prosecutor’s or the jury’s] decisions in the State of Georgia." (1)

"After a thorough review, Judge Forrester concluded that “the (Baldus) data base has substantial flaws and . . . petitioner has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is essentially trustworthy." (1)

" ... Baldus et al. failed to prove (and the State’s experts succeeded in rebutting) the basic claims made in the Baldus study.45 They did not just fail; they failed dismally. The Baldus study lay in shreds when Judge Forrester got through with it." (1)

"The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, sitting en banc, commended the district court “for its outstanding endeavor” in analyzing the validity of the Baldus study, and there is little doubt that a review of the factual finding that the study was invalid would have been affirmed under the applicable “clearly erroneous” standard." (1)

Read Federal District Court Judge Forrester's full rejection of Baldus' database for McCleskey.

A even more thorough review is provided by Joseph Katz, who did the methodological review of the Baldus database, which was rife with errors and problems. I have it, if you care to research.

Based upon experience, most, if not all law schools, wrongly confirm the Baldus database.

These two articles, below, give a good explanation of some core problem with David Baldus, in the McCleskey case and another of his reviews.

I am unaware of Baldus making any efforts to correct these many misconceptions, over the many years that he should have. Despicable. I debated Baldus on these issues.

A) "The Math Behind Race, Crime and Sentencing Statistics" By John Allen Paulos, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1998 http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jul/12/opinion/op-2965

B) See “The Odds of Execution” within “How numbers are tricking you”, by Arnold Barnett, MIT Technology Review October, 1994 https://statpage.sandiego.edu/barnett.htm

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 5, 2019 1:18:45 PM


That was not the topic.

Countries with and without the death penalty have every range of murder rates, as, apparently, you are unaware, with murder rates ranging from exceeding low to exceedingly high, in both death penalty and no death penalty jurisdictions, as any thorough researcher knows.

I have been telling you to do better for well over a decade. You have rejected that advice. Sad.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 5, 2019 1:25:29 PM

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