Rep. Ayanna Pressley made the connection for us when she told us why she wants to abolish the federal death penalty.
Today, our friends at the Death Penalty Information Center released Enduring Injustice: The Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty, a new report which reveals the true racist history and implications of the Death Penalty in the United States.
Racial reckoning is always going to be a theme that comes to mind when we remember 2020. At our most recent execution protest, Rep. Ayanna Pressley made the connection for us when she told us why she is sponsoring legislation to abolish the federal death penalty. For Black Lives to truly matter in our society, we must end capital punishment.
The death penalty in the US has always been applied disproportionately based on race. From the colonial period through Reconstruction, laws explicitly set forth different punishments based on race, but racial disparities continue today, even under ostensibly race-neutral laws.
Race of the victim is one of the greatest predictors of who will be sentenced to death and executed. Even though 50% of homicide victims are Black, more than 75% of the murder victims in cases resulting in an execution were white.
Race affects every stage of a death-penalty case. Prosecutors are more likely to seek death if the victim is white than if the victim is Black. White-victim homicides are more likely to be “cleared” by the arrest of a suspect. Black citizens are systemically excluded from capital juries. Studies show that juries are influenced by race in their sentencing decisions, perceiving Black defendants as more dangerous.
Join Rep. Ayanna Pressley and tell congress to abolish the death penalty TODAY.
Abraham J. Bonowitz
Director, Death Penalty Action
PS: There are two federal executions scheduled next week, and we must act now to build our movement. Please be sure to share this petition on your social media.