How does the race of the victim affect being charged with a capital crime? The race of the offender?

A crime is a crime and a human life is a human life.  It shouldn’t matter the color of your skin, but as history as shown us in the past it does.  Since 1976 people of color has accounted for 43% of total executions and 55% of those currently awaiting execution. As of October 2002, 12 people have been executed where the defendant was white and the murder victim black, compared with 178 black defendants executed for murders with white victims.  White victims do account for approximately one-half of all murder victims. In the fall of 2000, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released the results of an initial survey of federal death penalty prosecutions. The report shows that the federal death penalty, like its application in the states, is used disproportionately against people of color. Of the 18 prisoners currently on federal death row, 16 are African-American, Hispanic or Asian. From 1995-2000, 80% of all the federal capital cases recommended by U.S. Attorneys to the Attorney General seeking the death penalty involved people of color. Even after review by the Attorney General, 72% of the cases approved for death penalty prosecution involved minority defendants. Researchers from University of Maryland in January 2003 have found that defendants are much more likely to receive a death sentence if they have killed a white person. In April 2001, researchers from the University of North Carolina released a study of all homicide cases in North Carolina between 1993 and 1997. The study found that the odds of getting a death sentence increased three and a half times if the victim was white rather than black. In 1998, Kentucky became the first death penalty state to pass the Racial Justice Act, a law that prohibits the death penalty from being sought on the basis of race. Following this victory, Racial Justice Act legislation was introduced, but was not passed, in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

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