A new Ohio State University study has found that blacks convicted of killing whites are not only more likely than non-whites to receive a death sentence, but also more likely to be executed. Blacks on death row for killing non-whites are less likely to be executed than others on death row. “Examining who survives on death row is important because less than 10% of those given the death sentence ever get executed,” said David Jacobs (pictured), co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University. “The disparity in execution rates based on the race of victims suggests our justice system places greater value on white lives, even after sentences are handed down.” Jacobs notes that this is the first study to examine how the race of victims impacts the probability that an offender will be executed.

Jacobs conducted the study with Ohio State sociology professor Zhenchao Qian, Jason Carmichael of McGill University, and Stephanie Kent of Cleveland State University. The group examined the outcomes of 1,560 people sentenced to death in 16 states from 1973 to 2002. Their findings showed that there is more than a 2-fold greater risk that an African-American who killed a white person will be executed than there is for a white person who killed a non-white person. Jacobs observed, “Overall, we found that our justice system is not colorblind, even after offenders are put on death row. White lives are still valued more than black ones when it comes to deciding who gets executed and who does not.” The study is published in the August 2007 edition of the American Sociological Review and the research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
(Research News, Ohio State University, July 21, 2007). Read the article about the study. See Race and Studies.