Monday, June 26, 2006

"Black-looking" Criminals More Likely to Get a Death Sentence

Male murderers with stereotypically ''black-looking'' features are more than twice as likely to get the death sentence than lighter-skinned African American defendants found guilty of killing a white person, Stanford researchers have found. The relationship between physical appearance and the death sentence disappears, however, when both murderers and their victims are black.

''Race clearly matters in criminal justice in ways in which people may or may not be consciously aware,'' said Jennifer Eberhardt, associate professor of psychology. ''When black defendants are accused of killing whites, perhaps jurors use the degree to which these defendants appear stereotypically black as a proxy for criminality, and then punish accordingly.''

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