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Race of victim among factors in California death sentences, study shows

[JURIST] More prisoners are on California's death row for murdering whites than for killing people of any other race, despite the fact that were more black and Hispanic murder victims during the same time period, according to a new study to be published in the Santa Clara Law Review [official website]. The study, which has not yet been released, focused on over 260 death sentences in California during the 1990s and determined that murder suspects who killed whites were three times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who killed blacks and nearly four times more likely to be on death row than those who killed Hispanics. The study also looked at whether a defendant's race had an impact on whether juries recommended a death sentence or prosecutors sought the death penalty, but concluded that race did not contribute significantly to these decisions. In McCleskey v. Kemp [opinion], the US Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that studies such as this one are not grounds to reverse death penalties, unless a defendant can prove there was racial bias against him individually. AP has more.

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