February 26th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

Race and the death penalty

A jury in Ohio, as I write, is faced with the agonizing decision of whether to recommend the death penalty for convicted double murderer Bobby Cutts, Jr.


The single most determining factor, proved by study after study, as to whether an American murderer is sentenced to death or life imprisonment is surely something that will never be breathed aloud during those deliberations: Race. An African-American defendant who kills a white victim is far more likely to be sentenced to death than other murderers.

Racial bias in administration of the death penalty has led to its ban in New Jersey and a moratorium in Maryland. The U.S. General Accounting Office and Amnesty International have expressed grave concerns about the significantly enhanced likelihood of African-American defendants, or killers of white victims, receiving death sentences.

This case presents both to an all-white jury.

–Lisa Bloom, In Session anchor

Filed under: In Session • Lisa Bloom
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