Death penalty neg inherency Answers

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Death Penalty Negative
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2nc – No Racial Bias

There is no racial bias—those stats are the result of the ideologies of researchers—researchers morally opposed to the death penalty concede this.

Walsh and Hatch ‘17 [Anthony Walsh (Boise State University) and Virginia Hatch (Boise State University), “Ideology, Race, and the Death Penalty: “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” in Advocacy Research”, Journal of Ideology: Vol. 37 : No. 1 , Article 2, 01-31-2017, Accessible Online at] KL 6-28-2020
Nevertheless, a number of statements expressed with “incredible certitude” about race and the disproportionate application of the death penalty and illustrating “media overreach” are shown below from various organizations and authors: “African Americans are disproportionately represented among people condemned to death in the USA. While they make up 12 percent of the national population, they account for more than 40 percent of the country’s current death row inmates, and one in three of those executed since 1977” (Amnesty International, 2003). “Approximately 35% of those executed since 1976 have been black, even though blacks constitute only 12% of the population. The odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times higher if the defendant is black than if he or she is white” (American Civil Liberties Union, nd). “The national death-row population is roughly 42 percent black, while the U.S. population overall is only 13.6 percent black, according to the latest census. We’ve long known that the death penalty disproportionately kills people of color” (Matt Ford in The Atlantic, June, 23rd, 2014). “Last week was the 35th anniversary of the return of the American death penalty. It remains as racist and as random as ever” (David Dow in The New York Times, July 8th , 2011). “[E]ven if it were clear that blacks and non-black defendants were treated fairly and consistently in America’s death-sentencing system, there are also concerns about the substantial overrepresentation of blacks on death row in America (13 percent of the nation’s civilian population versus 42 percent of the death row population)” (Acker, Bohm & Lanier, 2014:531). These claims are true on their face; the statistics are accurate, but the interpretation is bogus, and constitute examples of what Joel Best (2001, p. 62) call "mutant statistics." Neil Gilbert (1998, p. 102) calls such statements examples of "advocacy research" that purposely paints the grimmest of pictures to force fence-sitters to take notice. According to the latest information for the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) (2015), African-Americans have been between 11% and 13% of the U. S. population between 1976 and 2015, and have constituted 35% of the executions. Likewise, blacks comprise 42% of current U.S. death row inmates. Thus, since the resumption of executions in 1976, blacks have been overrepresented relative to their proportion of the general population by roughly 3 to 1 in terms of executions and as death row residents. As we have seen from the statements above, this is almost always taken by the media (as well as some academics) as clear evidence that the death penalty is still biased against African-Americans. The disproportionality argument is repeated mantra-like without giving any serious thought to the logic behind it because it produces a comfortable fit with the ideological views of death penalty opponents, including those of the present authors. We rarely seek to question something that slots comfortably into our ideology because to do so may lead us to question other positions located under the same umbrella and produce cognitive dissonance. Indeed, we unthinkingly accepted this view ourselves until we spent more than two years researching the death penalty for our book and received abundant feedback from at least 16 reviewers (Hatch & Walsh, 2016). Of course, as we know from our first exposure to statistics but sometimes forget, claims of disproportionality cannot be evaluated by comparing different things. The percentages of each race executed or on death row must be compared with the percentage of each race eligible to be included in those sub-populations, and not with their proportion of the general population. To assess this claim logically we have to compare each race’s proportion of murderers with its proportion executed or on death row. Social scientists (and the DPIC) are well aware of this, but rarely make this awareness explicit, and perhaps cannot even acknowledge it to themselves in the Kuhnian (1970) sense of not “seeing at all.” If we assess racial differences among the people on death row with the correct target population in mind, a very different picture emerges. In 2013, 52.2% of individuals arrested for murder in the United States were African-Americans and 47.8% were white (FBI, 2014). The FBI places Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites into a single “White” category (93% of Hispanics-Latinos are defined as white) in its Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), so we cannot make direct black/white comparisons between UCR and DPIC statistics. The inclusion of Hispanics in the white category inflates white crime figures because Hispanics have a higher crime rate than non-Hispanic whites (Steffensmeier et al., 2010). Steffensmeier and his colleagues (2010) calculated that when Hispanics are taken out of the white category, the black homicide rate averages 12.7 times higher than the white rate. Fox and Levin (2001) find that African-Americans are overrepresented in every homicide category, ranging from 66.7% of drug-related homicides to 27.2% of workplace homicides, and the Radford University’s Serial Killer Information Center (Aamodt, 2015) finds that African-Americans have been 57.9% of serial killers in the U.S. from 2000 to 2014; whites 34%, Hispanics 7.9%, and Asian Americans 0.06%. With these data in mind, we should formulate a much different perspective on the disproportionality statements that we see in both the popular media and in scholarly works. A comparison of homicide and execution/death row data led Matt Robinson (2008) to the conclusion in his work on the death penalty that: “Although they are overrepresented among death row populations and executions relative to their share of the U.S. population, blacks are underrepresented based on their arrests and convictions for murder” (p. 191). This raises the question of why the perception is the opposite of the reality. The Origins of the Conventional Wisdom The history of race relations in the United States is painfully disturbing. African-Americans have been treated badly from the time that the first African slaves landed in America in 1619 until relatively recently. In terms of the death penalty, in Virginia, slaves could be convicted of 66 crimes carrying the death penalty at one point, and free blacks could be executed for rape into the 20th century; only murder carried the death penalty for whites (Bohm, 2012). Blacks were subjected to such laws under slavery for over 200 years, and after emancipation they were subjected to the Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, disenfranchisement, “separate but equal” statutes, literacy tests, vicious stereotypes, and lynch mobs (Walsh & Hemmens, 2014). Those who are aware of this history have a tendency to examine modern racial issues in its context, and find it difficult to imagine that the death penalty can be administered in a racially neutral way and to take racial bias in capital cases for granted. For others, history is just that— history, and that in this modern age things have changed dramatically in the United States.

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