Home » Race and Mental Impairment: The Driving Force Behind Death Penalty Punishment in America

Race and Mental Impairment: The Driving Force Behind Death Penalty Punishment in America

by Cathy Brown
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72 p.c of the 18 individuals executed in the USA in 2022 suffered from some form of psychological incapacity or impairment based on the Demise Penalty Info Heart’s (Heart)2022 Annual Report.

5 of these executed have been Black males, three of whom suffered from psychological impairment and who have been put to demise by Southern states.

The Heart’s 2022 report is proof that race and psychological impairment proceed to be the driving drive behind the demise penalty punishment on this nation, particularly within the Southern states.

In its Annual 2021 demise penalty report, the Heart reported there have been 11 executions carried out that 12 months within the U.S.—six of whom have been Black males.

5 of the six have been additionally put to demise in Southern demise chambers with all of them having differing levels of psychological impairment, based on the Heart.

In an April 3, 2017, Washington Publish report, Frank R. Baumgartner and Betsy Neill, co-authors of “Lethal Justice,” discovered after intensive analysis that 43 p.c of all of the individuals executed within the United States had some type of psychological impairment.

These two College of North Carolina authors/psychologists pointed to a different examine performed by John H. Blume, Director of the Cornell College Demise Penalty Undertaking, about executions carried out within the U.S. between 1976 and 2003. Blume discovered that 88 p.c of these executed people suffered from some type of psychological impairment or substance abuse.

With 9 executions having already occurred as much as March 9 of this 12 months, there are 13 extra scheduled executions remaining in 2023—six of whom are Black males, an over-representation of that demographic.

As with the psychological well being situation, the problem of race continues to plague the demise penalty in all areas as a lot as we speak because it did in 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020.

The Heart has reported that as of July 2021, 299 Black males have been executed for killing white victims whereas solely 21 white males have been executed for killing black victims.

It’s not stunning that race performs such a dominant function in punishment.

Racism is systemic within the American justice system.

In accordance with the Heart, there have been 455 executions carried out within the U.S. between 1930 and 1972 for the crime of rape with 405 of these being Black males convicted of raping white ladies largely within the former Accomplice states.

The Demise Penalty Info Heart additionally says they aren’t conscious of any case the place a white man has ever been executed for raping and never killing a Black girl or baby within the U.S. Given the racial segregation historical past of the Accomplice states through the 100-year interval between 1865 and 1965, it may be fairly assumed that white males raped extra Black ladies throughout that century than Black males who raped white ladies.

For example, the ACLU/NAACP Authorized Protection Fund has described Georgia’s 1816 penal code stating it “expressly offered that rape dedicated by a white man can be punished by a time period of imprisonment of no more than twenty years, and tried rape by no more than 5 years, however that slaves and ‘free individuals of shade’ have been to be put to demise for the crimes of rape or tried rape of a free white feminine.”

The identical racism dynamic will be discovered within the second worst punishment imposed within the U.S.—life imprisonment, significantly life with out parole imprisonment.

The Sentencing Undertaking reports that there are roughly 200,000 inmates within the nation’s jail system serving life sentences. Two-thirds of them are Black with about 30% of them being over the age of 55.

Roughly six out of ten of all these lifers have been convicted of some homicide-related offense. Once more, a disproportionate variety of them are Black males with mental impairments.

The proof of punishment and racism in U.S. is putting.

  • ABC Information reported in 2018 that in 800 jurisdictions on this nation, Black individuals are 5 occasions extra more likely to be arrested, and in 250 of these jurisdictions, Black individuals have been 10 occasions extra more likely to be arrested.
  • Mapping Police Violence reports that Black individuals are 3 times extra more likely to be killed by the police.
  • NPQ Journal reports that Black males obtain sentences 19.1 p.c harsher than white males convicted of the identical offense.
  • The Vera Institute reports that 35 p.c of the nation’s penal inhabitants is Black individuals, though Black individuals comprise simply 13 p.c of the nation’s complete inhabitants.
  • The Demise Penalty Info Heart reports that Black individuals are 7.5 occasions extra more likely to be wrongfully convicted than White individuals, and the speed is larger when the sufferer is White.

This sampling of information illustrates that crime in America is considered by a Black lens. It’s a byproduct of the historic affect slavery had and continues to have, on a lot of the White psyche on this nation—a lot in order that it’s now rooted in all of the Democratic establishments on this nation, significantly the nation’s prison justice system.

The vast majority of the roughly 332 million individuals on this nation aren’t racist.

White individuals signify 61 percent of that inhabitants. It’s from this inhabitants {that a} disproportionate variety of individuals comprise the nation’s prison justice system: police, prosecutors, judges, jail guards, probation/parole officers, and the assist workers for all these elements of that system.

That stated, it may well fairly be stated that racism is rooted in various levels within the white American inhabitants, significantly in its prison justice system the place the levers of energy are managed by White individuals.

A 2019 Pew Analysis Heart survey opened with this conclusion:

“Greater than 150 years after the thirteenth Modification abolished slavery in the USA, most U.S. adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an effect on the place of black individuals in American society as we speak. Greater than four-in-ten say the nation hasn’t made sufficient progress towards racial equality, and there may be some skepticism, significantly amongst blacks, that black individuals will ever have equal rights with whites …”

Politically conservative white politicians are at the moment passing legal guidelines to both forestall or reduce Black voter participation; calling for a “nationwide divorce” between so-called crimson states (predominantly white) and blue states (considerably Black); passing legal guidelines that both take away or revise Black historical past within the nation’s academic programs; and enacting legal guidelines that impose harsher punishments on Black those that proceed to gasoline mass incarceration and a modern-day slavery.

The actual fact that these racist political efforts are being undertaken results in an affordable conclusion that nicely over half of the greater than 200 million white individuals on this nation assist these efforts.

And it’s from the ranks of those those that management the American prison justice system.

Photograph supply: thecrimereport.org

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