CU Research: Race Matters When It Comes to the Death Penalty

July 23 2010, 11:07 AM

In California, 70 percent of voters support the death penalty, according to UPI. But is the sentence meted out equally? According to Michael Radelet, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado, who studied 28 years of cases in North Carolina, the answer is no. The odds that someone will receive a death sentence in North Carolina are three times higher if the defendant is suspected of killing a white person versus killing a black person. The study, undertaken with Glenn Pierce, a research scientist in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston, is to be published next year in The North Carolina Law Review. "It's just kind of baffling that in this day and age, race matters," Radelet tells Boulder's Daily Camera.

North Carolina recently followed Kentucky's lead in allowing murder suspects and death-row inmates to present statistical information, such as Radelet's, as evidence of racial bias in their sentencing. As for Colorado, delivering death is complicated, as 5280 editors Patrick Doyle and Natasha Gardner discovered in "The Politics of Killing."