United States of America: Death by discrimination - the continuing role of race in capital cases.
This paper outlines recent studies indicating that race, particularly race of victim, continues to play a role in who is sentenced to death in the USA. Illustrated throughout with individual cases, it examines the under-representation of minority jurors in capital trials. It outlines research into the attitudes of capital jurors suggesting that conscious or unconscious racism can infect juror decision-making. It notes the failure of the federal authorities to offer remedial leadership on the issue of racial bias in the capital justice system, and also discusses the possible links between race and the error-prone nature of the US capital justice system. It points out that executive clemency cannot be depended upon to prevent fatal errors and arbitrariness