Racism, which is politically motivated, has an effect on the law of sentencing. A defendant’s chances of getting the death penalty are determined by their skin color. Black defendants who are convicted for killing white victims have 78% greater chances of being sentenced to death than white defendants accused of the same crime. In McCleskey V. Kemp this was a significant issue. The Supreme Court disregarded statistical evidence to show the presence of racial bias in the execution. 35 Years after McCleskey and Kemp: Legacy of Racial Injustice, n.d. Even though the same data is often used by courts to prove racial bias in education or employment, the court found the given information was not legally relevant. The court required that the defendant prove that he was subject to racial prejudice during the proceedings. As a result, death sentences are subject to intense scrutiny. Experts try to prove racial prejudice against white defendants, especially when their victim happens to be black.
My agreement is that death penalty cases disproportionately affect minority defendants. The historical context of the death penalty case supports this argument. 89 percent of executed convicts for rape cases that involved white victims were black. (35 years after McCleskey and Kemp: A legacy of racial injustice in the administration of the Death Penalty. n.d. This has been a continuing practice into today’s age. At least 75% executed convicts have been convicted of the murder of white victims – despite the fact that both the black and white murder rates are the same. Research has shown that in every instance involving white victims neither the seriousness of the crime nor how many victims the prisoner killed mattered. The findings showed that white victims are more likely for offenders to be executed. David Baldus was a researcher that examined over 2,000 cases of murder between 1973-1979. He found that six of the ten defendants were condemned to death only because the victims of the crime were white. (35 years after McCleskey and Kemp: A legacy of racism in the administration of the death penalty, n.d.). Prosecutors sought death sentences for the two-thirds black offenders who claimed to have been victims of white crime. However, only 19% of those times when these roles were reversed, the victim was black and the criminal was white was the case.