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The Fatal Prejudice of the Death Penalty

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Posted on Apr 2, 2013
Moyers & Company

Martin Clancy.

Bill Moyers looks at America’s gruesome history of capital punishment, racism and the highest court in the land with former ABC News reporters Martin Clancy (pictured) and Tim O’Brien, authors of the new book “Murder at the Supreme Court.”

More than 3,100 inmates are sitting on death row right now. More than 60 percent of them are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

“If you can afford a decent defense, you probably will not die in an execution chamber,” Clancy tells Moyers. “As you look back you discover that the smartest men in America, the most decent people in this country for 200 years in our legislatures, in the Congress, in our courts both lower courts and the Supreme Court, have tried to figure out a fair and equitable way to administer capital punishment. And as far as I’m concerned they’ve failed.”

As O’Brien points out, “if the victim is white and the perpetrator is black, you’re 10 or 11 times more likely to get a death sentence.”

“These are factors that should not figure into capital punishment at all. If you don’t have any money, and even if you do have any money, it’s very difficult to get a good lawyer to represent you,” he continues. “All these things lead us to believe that as a practical matter it doesn’t work.”

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See a transcript of their conversation here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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