THINKSPOT Paper #2
TEXT: In chapter 9 on page 216, the text states that, “The former slave states are more likely to execute criminals than are other states, and African Americans are eight to ten times more likely to be sentenced to death for crimes such as homicidal rape than are whites who committed the same offence.”
The fact that African American criminals in the former slave states are eight to ten times more likely than White criminals to be sentenced to capital punishment for the same crime is surprising, especially in today’s time. Even though in our society, slavery and segregation have been outlawed for decades and racism is a taboo, statistics such as these show a subtle and often unnoticed inequality among Whites and African Americans in the United States.
This statement can be perfectly explained by the Conflict perspective of sociology. The Conflict theory states ...view middle of the document...
In my opinion, the sociological institution of family plays a large role in people in these states believing that African Americans are not equal to whites. Since one of the most important functions of family is to socialize and educate children, the children in these states are socialized and educated with the long standing centuries old idea that African American are not equal to Whites. Although these ideas may not be popular among all of the people that live in these mostly southern states, they have been inherently passed down from family members since the beginning of slavery.
This idea of African Americans being more likely to receive capital punishment than their white counterparts still applies today. According to Pilkington, a writer for a news website called The Guardian, “Black inmates in Houston are more than three times as likely to face death sentence than whites, groundbreaking study shows.” Houston, which is the largest city in Texas, has carried out more executions than any state has apart from Texas itself (Pilkington). A criminologist by the name of Raymond Paternoster from the University of Michigan researched this issue and found that; “The probability that the district attorney will advance a case to a death penalty trial is more than three times as high when the defendant is African American than for white defendants.” Another article written in the New York Times by David R. Dow states that:
“In Texas, though, they do come close. In 2008, the district attorney of Harris County, Chuck Rosenthal, resigned after news emerged that he had sent and received racist e-mails. His office had sought the death penalty in 25 cases; his successor has sought it in 7. Of the total 32 cases, 29 involve a nonwhite defendant (Dow).”
This statement also reinforces the social problem of racism that still exists today in a country, which was founded on the basis of equality for every person.
Dow, David R. "Death Penalty, Still Racist and Arbitrary." The Opinion Pages. New York Times, 8 July 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. .
Pilkington, Ed. "Research Exposes Racial Discrimination in America's Death Penalty Capital." The Guardian. The Guardian, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. .