Draft: Not for Quotation of Citation without Permssion Racial Discrimination in Capital and Non-capital Sentencing with Special Reference to the Evidence in Murder and Rape Prosecutions

Abstract

It was a pleasure to review Professor Baumer's thoughtful review of the literature on race discrimination in sentencing in the American criminal justice system. It is a timely and insightful critique of a vast and complex literature. In my remarks, I develop two themes. The first is an elaboration on Professor Baumer's assertion that the existing " body of research … is not well organized … to detect racial discrimination by legal decision makers. " My second theme addresses what to me is a puzzle – how can we reconcile the substantial and persuasive body of evidence documenting prejudice against black males in the white population in general and within the criminal justice system with an equally persuasive body of evidence that fails to document statewide bottom line black defendant disparities in the prosecution and sentencing of murder and rape, (the crimes with which I am most familiar), and many other crimes. In my reading of Professor Baumer's paper, I was particularly interested in the evidence he cites of racial discrimination in non-capital sentencing. The conflicting findings and opinions he surveyed help me understand the substantial gap that I often perceive between the strong unqualified claims of racial prejudice in the system presented by its critics and the empirical evidence bearing on the issue. The reason for this gap appears to be that the literature provides support for nearly every position on the issue, or as Professor Baumer charitably puts it – the " sentencing research …is ambiguous in its conclusions. " (p.3) For example, recent commentary in the New York Times asserts that the " abominable incarceration rates among blacks are the

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Baldus2010DraftNF, title={Draft: Not for Quotation of Citation without Permssion Racial Discrimination in Capital and Non-capital Sentencing with Special Reference to the Evidence in Murder and Rape Prosecutions}, author={David C. Baldus}, year={2010} }