My comments entered as "Sharp:".
" . . . based on the number of murders, African Americans are sentenced to death at lower rates than whites."
"How can African-American underrepresentation on death row be reconciled with the well-documented racial effects in capital cases? One racial effect, disproportionate presence of minorities on death row, is an artifact of using the general population, rather than the murderer population, as the basis for comparison. If the focus is on the operation of the capital punishment system, the population of murderers is an arguably more appropriate starting point."
Sharp: It is the only starting point. Any claim of racism based upon a correlation of racial/ethnic population counts to death row population is a common and intended deception by death penalty opponents.
"The white defendant-black victim category is too small a portion of murders to materially influence the size of death row." SEE 8) "Black on white" crime vs "white on black" crime, below.
"If, however, black defendant-white victim murders increase black representation on death row, and the bottom line is underrepresentation of blacks on death row, some race of defendant-race of victim combination must decrease it. The strongest candidate is the black defendant-black victim combination due to the evidence of prosecutorial reluctance to seek death in "black on black" cases."
Sharp: Blume, et al, simply missed the data, here. Any death row population "imbalance" is based upon the fact that black on black murders are much less likely to be a capital murder than are black on white murders. That is the explanation.
"Texas sentences murderers to death at a rate below the national mean."
3) "The Death Penalty and Racism The Times Have Changed", Washington Post reporter Charles Lane, The American Interest, Nov/Dec 2010,
5) RACE, SENTENCING & THE DEATH PENALTY
Race of the victim
Could it be that whites are, overwhelmingly, the victims in death row cases because whites are, overwhelmingly, the victims in capital crimes?
What is the ratio of white to black victims under the relevant, but non-homicide circumstances, which, when combined with homicide, become capital crimes?
(A) The most relevant economic violent crime is robbery with injury, which shows a 4:1 ratio of white victims to black victims (C.5);
(B) By a 5:1 ratio, whites are more likely to be victims of rape/sexual assault than are blacks (BJS, 1977-1984);
( C ) For all property crimes (theft, burglary, auto theft), there is a 7:1 ratio of white to black victims ("Sourcebook, 1994," BJS 1995, tables 3.21,3.25);
(D) A comparison of only black and white perpetrators and victims reveal that whites are five times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than are blacks, or 7.5 v 1.5 million, a 5:1 ratio ("Criminal Victimization, 1993" BJS 1995);
and, for homicides, which by themselves, qualify for the death penalty:
(E) In death penalty states, police victim murders are capital crimes. From 1985-1994, 87% of murdered officers were white, 12% black, or 7:1 (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, FBI:UCR, 1994);
(F) Whites make up a dominant percentage of multiple/serial murderers, whose victims are overwhelmingly white, thereby disproportionately and correctly raising the number of white victims in execution cases. In such death row cases, 87% of the victims are white, 13% black, or 7:1 (NAACP LDF data, 1996);
(G) Many death row cases involve stranger murders. There is a 7:1 ratio of white to black strangers (US Census, avg. 1970-80-90); and
(H) Research and appellate courts (through McCleskey) have confirmed that white victim murders are the most aggravated, thus, by statute, enhancing the likelihood of a death sentence in those cases (C. 1-5 & 9-12). These factors, and others within this section, are consistent with the 6:1 ratio of white to black victims in capital cases.
But, wait, don’t blacks and whites represent about an equal number of murder victims? Yes, but, make no mistake, murder victims and capital murder victims are two very distinct groups. And only capital murders are relevant to death penalty cases.
Capital crimes are very unique, combining murder with specific circumstance, such as subsets A-H. IF homicide rates are statistically consistent within subsets A-D, as McCleskey and additional studies indicate (C. 1-5 & 9-12), then it is subsets A-H, with additional required factors such as the murderer’s criminal history, capital procedures (see F), capital statutes, crime statistics, aggravating factors and other specific facts of the case (hereinafter McCleskey et al), which result in the distribution of victims in these cases.
HOW VILE ARE ANTI DEATH PENALTY ACTIVISTS?
"The most vile strategy of death penalty opponents is their use of propaganda to nurture hatreds and mistrust between race and class."
"Bryan Stevenson, a well known opposition spokesman and attorney with Equal Justice Initiative, claims that the death penalty reflects the middle class’ desire to strike out at the poor and racial minorities. Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) joins this hideous chorus, proclaiming that "(m)iddle-class and upper middle-class white people...are so much for the death penalty (to) ‘Keep those dangerous people (the poor and minorities) in their place.’ "
Sharp: Simply foul claims with nothing to back them up. Folks support the death penalty for the same reasons they support all sanctions - justice, a sanction commensurate with the harm of the crime. Gallup polling showed 81% support for the execution of mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Support was consistent through all racial and economic groups.
6) McCleskey v Kemp, the infamous race based death penalty case decided by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)
Sharp: The US Supreme Court misunderstood the math involved. They ignorantly wrote: "defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks."
Totally inaccurate. It was by odds of 4.3 times, or an odds multiplier of 4.3, which can mean a difference as low as 2-4%, as opposed to the 330% difference represented by 4.3 times. SCOTUS blew it big time on this.
Furthermore, the database, which, allegedly supported McCleskey's charge of racism, did no such thing and was, completely, unreliable.
Based upon experience, most, if not all law schools, wrongly confirm the Baldus database.
I am unaware of Baldus making any efforts to correct these many misconceptions, over the many years that he should have.
Sharp: As the most common capital murders, those which are death penalty eligible, are rape/murders and robbery/murders, the perceived "disparities" will most likely be even greater than the numbers, above.
8) "Black on white" crime vs "white on black" crime, gathered from a Google search, for the previous 12 months, from 8/30/13:
a) Blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit a robbery.
From previous research
(1) Rebutting the Myths About Race and the Death Penalty, Kent Scheidegger, 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 147 (2012).