Professor’s Study Suggests Victim’s Race May Be a Factor in Death Penalty Sentences

A new study by Michael L. Radelet, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, finds a strong correlation between death penalty sentences and the race of the victim. Examining more than 15,000 murders over nearly three decades, Professor Radelet finds that convicted murderers are three times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim was white compared to convicted murderers who killed an African American. Radelet does not believe the disparity is due to racial bias of prosecutors. Rather, the exclusion of blacks from many juries and unconscious biases of white jurors may play a role.