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Rebutting the Myths About Race and the Death Penalty

19 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2012  

Kent Scheidegger

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Date Written: November 19, 2012


In 1984, a study on race and the death penalty went to trial in Georgia, with expert testimony on both sides. The federal district judge found that the study did not show what its principal author, David Baldus, claimed. To the extent it showed anything, it showed just the opposite, that neither race of the perpetrator nor race of the victim played a significant role in capital sentencing decisions. Yet the Baldus study is routinely cited as proof of what the author claimed rather than what the court found. The public perception of race and the death penalty has been severely distorted by misleading claims and faulty reporting. The body of evidence, when critically examined, shows that the reality of race and capital sentencing in the United States today is quite different from what is commonly believed.

Keywords: race, capital punishment

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Scheidegger, Kent, Rebutting the Myths About Race and the Death Penalty (November 19, 2012). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 10, No. 1, p. 147, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Kent Scheidegger (Contact Author)

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation ( email )

2131 L Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
United States

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