Stanford Psychologist Finds That in Murder Cases Dark-Skinned Blacks Are More Likely to Receive the Death Penalty Than Light-Skinned African Americans

A Stanford psychologist has found that in murder cases there is a direct correlation between the darkness of defendants’ skin and whether or not they receive the death penalty.

Jennifer Eberhardt, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University, is the lead author in a study which found that African Americans convicted of murdering whites were more likely to receive the death penalty than light-skinned blacks who had killed whites. When the murder victim was black, there was no discernible difference in death penalty rates for dark- and light-skinned blacks.

The study found that more than 54 percent of African-American defendants with dark skin, broad noses, and thick lips were sentenced to death when convicted of killing a white person. Only 24 percent of light-skinned blacks were sentenced to death.

Professor Eberhardt earned her Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard University. Her study is published in the May issue of Psychological Science. The article can be purchased online by clicking here.