Tag Archives: Justice

Why Does the South Execute More People?

Fascinating story from the Institute for Southern Studies about racism, the death penalty and it’s roots in Slavery….


The regional disparity is striking. Since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on death sentences in 1976, 1,264 people have been executed in the U.S. And 921 of those executions — or 73 percent of the total — took place in 13 Southern states.

Its true that Texas — and what some call its death machine — skew the numbers: Its 474 executions account for nearly 38 percent of the U.S. total. But the fact remains: Of the many things you can call the death penalty, one fitting adjective is that its largely Southern.

What has made the South the home base of capital punishment? As you might suspect, executions have their roots in the history of slavery. As noted in A Short History of the American Death Penalty [pdf]:

“In contrast to capital punishment in the northern states, capital punishment in the South was not limited primarily to common law felonies. Rather, the death penalty was a powerful tool for keeping the slave population in submission. Crimes that interfered with the ownership of slaves were punished by death. In 1837, North Carolina, which lacked a penitentiary, had about 26 capital crimes including slave-stealing, concealing a slave with intent to free him, second conviction of inciting slaves to insurrection, and second conviction of circulating seditious literature among slaves.”

This racially-influenced law-and-order mentality spilled over into other crimes: In North Carolina, stealing bank notes, “crimes against nature” “buggery, sodomy, bestiality” and a second offense of forgery and statutory rape came to be considered capital offenses.

Racial disparity was literally written into the law with the Southern death penalty. After the Civil War, Black Codes created more crimes punishable by death for African-Americans than whites. In the 1830s, Virginia had five capital crimes for whites but an estimated 70 such crimes for black slaves.

Today, the well-documented racial disparity in death sentences has become one of the central arguments among opponents for ending capital punishment.

But less discussed is the racial divide in how people view the death penalty. For example, underneath the polls showing widespread support is one of the most well-documented facts in death penalty research: that it enjoys much higher support among whites than other racial groups, especially African-Americans.

For example, a 2005 Gallup poll was typical in finding that, while there was little difference in death penalty support among different age groups, and only a moderate 12-point gap between men and women, there was a 27-point difference between white 71% and black 44% support.

MORE:   ISS – Why does the South execute more people?.


Filed under Death Penalty, Justice System

The Media’s Casey Anthony Shame

Another good article, in addition to my earlier post, about the Media manipulation of this sad little story…

From Howard Kurtz via The Daily Beast:

What television news was guilty of was massive overkill. There was absolutely no reason for the TV business to turn the death of 2-year-old Caylee into a national soap opera—that is, short of milking the story for ratings. (Newspapers and magazines have largely stayed off this bandwagon.)

Sadly, many children are killed by parents in the United States each year, and most barely merit a short story in the local paper. If they’re African-American, they are barely on the radar. Casey Anthony is white, middle-class and attractive—the trifecta for producers and bookers.

Such trials are the spawn of O.J., whose murder case dominated the media in the mid-1990s. But Simpson was a world-famous athlete. Chandra Levy at least worked for a member of Congress. Since then, television news has tried to fill the void by taking unknown victims and defendants—Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway—and turning them into cause celebres so that viewers would develop a rooting interest in the players and the subplots.

I find it sickening, which is why I’ve largely avoided writing or talking about the Anthony case until now. Like many of those who even casually followed the story, I thought she was probably guilty. But I never understood why I should care about this murder above so many others. Let’s be honest with ourselves: this is the exploitation of tragedy until it becomes entertainment. And that’s why the situation is even worse than the indictment by Anthony’s lawyer would suggest.

July 05, 2011 07:05pm

via The Media’s Casey Anthony Shame – The Daily Beast.

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Mom on Facebook Sentenced in Son’s Drowning Death

She ought to be sentenced to life in prison due to self absorbtion and stupidity….

A northern Colorado woman who was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old baby drowned in a bathtub was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.

Shannon Johnson, 34, of Fort Lupton, cried as District Judge Thomas Quammen told her he didn’t think she was a bad person or that she killed her son on purpose, the Greeley Tribune reported. But, he added, that doesn’t mean her action wasn’t criminal.

“You left this little boy in a bathtub so you could entertain yourself on the computer by playing games,” Quammen said. “And you left that 13-month-old human being, little Joseph, incredibly for those reasons.”

Johnson pleaded guilty in March to negligently causing the death of her child. The charge carried a sentencing range of four to 12 years, but it also left open the possibility of alternative sentencing, which means she might have avoided spending time behind bars. Authorities rejected both of those options, saying they didn’t want to play down the seriousness of her crime.

According to court documents, Johnson put her son in the tub for his bath a little after 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20. She then left him unsupervised as she went to another room to share videos, check status updates and play Café World on Facebook.

via Mom on Facebook Sentenced in Son’s Drowning Death.

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