On Race and Justice: An Apology, An Indictment

by
Abby Zimet

While many people view "Stand Your Ground" laws as today's symbol for what's wrong with our criminal justice system, a suggestion we look deeper and further - to the country's long history of racial bias in jury selection, especially in death penalty cases. Last week, a North Carolina judge vacated the death sentence of Marcus Robinson under the state's Racial Justice Act citing a "wealth of evidence showing the persistent, pervasive, and distorting role of race in jury selection" - the first time racial bias has been rejected as unacceptable since the 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling in McCleskey v. Kemp that such bias is an “inevitable part of our criminal justice system,” and so be it. Meanwhile, the executions - technically legal, but relatively rare - go on, with Texas accounting for over a third of the total. The Economist maps out each one since 1976.

 

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