The Fatal Prejudice of the Death Penalty
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.”
See a transcript of their conversation here.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Moyers & Company:Wait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig