Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gee, of course the death penalty isn't racist

People always like to try to argue against the claim that the death penalty in this country is infected by racism.  Here is one case that undeniably has an ugly streak of racism running through it. During the sentencing phase of Duane Buck's capital murder trial, the state presented evidence to show that Buck would be a future danger to society. A psychologist with a history of working in corrections testified that race of a defendant was a factor to consider in determining future dangerousness.

“You have determined that the sex factor, that a male is more violent than a female because that’s just the way it is, and that the race factor, black, increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons,” the prosecutor asked Dr. Quijano. “Is that correct?”
“Yes,” he replied.
Way back in 2000, a review of cases was done in Texas to identify all the cases where this doctor testified that race was a factor in determining future dangerousness. The other five are all off death row. But Duane Buck is unlucky #6 who can't seem to get the state to agree that his sentence should also be vacated. This article doesn't do anything to explain why Buck's case is being treated differently from the other five. Is it just a matter of being from a different county with a different prosecutor? You would think that having both a victim and one of the original prosecutors backing his efforts, Buck would be likelier to succeed in seeking sentencing relief. So I just can't imagine what the hang-up is.

If Duane Buck doesn't get relief on this claim and is ultimately executed, we can't have any doubt that racism played a role in it. You can't make claims at a black man's capital sentencing trial about black men posing more of a risk of re-offending than other defendants and then say race wasn't a factor in the decision made at that trial. You can't bring those thoughts into a trial in a nation with our racial history. Hell, you can't pursue the death penalty against a black man in a nation with our racial history without racism playing a role. Can't be done. (Just like Germany won't touch the death penalty with a ten-foot pole because that nation has a rather unfortunate history with its government killing people.)

I can already hear the death penalty apologists saying I'm crazy. It's just one guy. There's no reason to assume the jury considered race in choosing death. They might have had other reasons. Or that it's not a matter of racism that black men commit a disproportionate number of murders, ergo it's not a matter of racism that they get sentenced to death at a disproportionate rate.  Here's an idea. There's one sure way we could end the argument. We could just stop the executions. No death penalty, no cries that it's racist. Works for me.


dudleysharp said...

The article missed about everything.

Dr. Quijano was a defense winess, there to tell the jury that Buck was not a future danger, which he made very clear.

After the prosecutor got Dr. Quijano to say that yes, black criminals were more likely to re offend, the defense, on re direct, got Dr. Quijano to repeat that Buck was not likely to re offend.

All very different than the other cases, where Dr. Quijano was a prosecution witness.

Dudley Sharp

S said...

That is all in the linked article. My readers know they're expected to read the sources I cite. The point, which you missed or just don't care about, is that none of that stuff matters given our nation's racial history.

dudleysharp said...


The re direct, which was not in the article, is quite important.

No one is disputing the nations history, which I do not ignore, didn't miss and do care about and which does not have any impact on this particular case, based upon the evidence.

No need to be snide and avoid the important evidence, as the reporter did.

S said...

Where was I snide? I disagree with you about the importance of the defense redirect. To claim that our Marion's history has nothing to do with any case wherein a jury is told black men are more dangerous than whites is absurd. My point all along is that all other facts or details you choose to focus on become irrelevant once that statement is uttered in court.

You should at least have the decency to let my readers know what your agenda here is. Don't think I don't know who you are.

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