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

By Daniel Medwed / Northeastern, on 1 January 2020

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.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Discrimination,