Black Deaths Matter: The Race-of-Victim Effect and Capital Punishment

13 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2020

See all articles by Daniel S. Medwed

Daniel S. Medwed

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: January 28, 2020

Abstract

The racial dimensions of the death penalty are well-documented. Many observers assume this state of affairs derives from bias—often implicit and occasionally explicit—against black defendants in particular. Research points to an even more alarming factor. The race of the victim, not the defendant, steers cases in the direction of death. Regardless of the perpetrator’s race, those who kill whites are more likely to face capital charges, receive a death sentence, and die by execution than those who murder blacks. This short Essay adds a contemporary gloss to the race-of-victim effect literature, placing it in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and showing how it relates to the broader, systemic devaluation of African-American lives.

Keywords: death penalty, race, Black Lives Matter

Suggested Citation

Medwed, Daniel S., Black Deaths Matter: The Race-of-Victim Effect and Capital Punishment (January 28, 2020). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 367-2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3527059 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3527059

Daniel S. Medwed (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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