Everyday Injustice Episode 193: Daniel Medwed and the Racism of the Death Penalty

In 2021, Professor Daniel Medwed published an article in the Brooklyn Law Review: “Black Deaths Matter: the Race-of-Victim Effect and Capital Punishment.”  In it, he found that irrespective of the race of the perpetrator, cases with white victims were more likely to see a death penalty charge.

Medwed notes one of the “troubling feature(s) of the death penalty landscape: Similarly situated offenders frequently receive divergent outcomes.”

From there we discuss efforts to correct some of these problems such as the racial justice act in California and a recent case out of Riverside.

One of the main problems with the death penalty is that, while the entire system in infected with racial and socio-economic inequities, “death is different” in that the death penalty is irreversible.

Medwed’s research concludes: “Most Americans acknowledge, even if only grudgingly, that (1) there’s a racial dimension to the death penalty, and (2) Black defendants get the death penalty more frequently than whites.”

But even more alarming, “the race of the victim, not the defendant steers cases in the direction of death.”

Listen as Daniel Medwed discusses the implications of race on the death penalty and the criminal legal system.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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