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Yarrow Neubert
American Constitution Society

Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Panel at IU Law to discuss race, death penalty

March 26, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A panel of experts will discuss how issues of race affect the implementation of the death penalty on Tuesday, April 1, at the Indiana University School of Law--Bloomington.

The program, titled "Intersection of Race and Jury Composition with the Death Penalty," will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Law School's Moot Court Room.

Panelists will include: Marla Sandys, associate professor of criminal justice at IU Bloomington and an authority on jury behavior and the death penalty; Paula Sites of the Indiana Public Defender Council, and Jessie Cook, an attorney in private practice who has dealt with death penalty cases over a 28-year career.

The speakers will also address the constitutionality of the death penalty and practical questions about trying capital cases in Indiana.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center and Amnesty International, studies have found:

  • About 80 percent of murder victims in case resulting in executions were white, even though only half of all murder victims generally are white.
  • In 96 percent of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, a pattern of discrimination was found.
  • In North Carolina, the odds of receiving the death penalty increased 3.5 times for killers whose victims were white.
  • A report sponsored by the American Bar Association in 2007 concluded that one-third of African-American death row inmates in Philadelphia would have received sentences of life imprisonment if they had not been African-American.
  • A 2007 Yale University School of Law study of death sentences in Connecticut revealed that African-American defendants receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the victims are white.

The discussion is sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society. It is open to the public, and free pizza will be provided.