The Baldus Study

1440 Words 6 Pages
Aside from protecting racially-motivated policing, the Supreme Court has also made it so that claims of racial bias cannot be made in the sentencing process. An example of this can be found in McClesky v. Kemp, where the Supreme Court illustrated that they would tolerate discrimination in the criminal justice system so long as no one explicitly claimed their racial biases (Alexander, 109).
In 1987, an African American man named Warren McCleskey was facing the death penalty after being convicted for the murder of a Georgia police officer. Represented by lawyers from the NAACP, McCleskey challenged his sentence by presenting the high court with the Baldus study, an in-depth statistical analysis of Georgia’s death sentencing patterns conducted
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While the Court did validate the findings of the Baldus study, it declared that systematic patterns of racism were unimportant if the defendant could not prove racial bias in their own individual case. In the absence of such evidence, the Fourteenth Amendment was not violated. Of course attaining evidence that proves unlawful discrimination is nearly impossible. In fact, the majority vote openly acknowledged that the very evidence they require is basically unattainable: “...long-standing rules generally bar litigants from obtaining discovery from the prosecution regarding charging patterns and motives, and similar rules forbid introduction of evidence of jury deliberations even when a juror has chosen to make deliberation public” (Kennedy, 235). At the end of the majority vote’s statement, they recognized the necessity of discretion in the criminal justice system but also that “discrimination is an inevitable by-product of discretion” (Alexander, 111). Furthermore, the Court openly worried that if they acknowledged the significant racial disparities found in McClesky’s case, that other actors of the criminal justice system would too come under fire. The Court ruled that the Baldus study did not illustrate a “constitutionally unacceptable risk of discrimination”, and therefore, the bias found in Georgia’s capital punishment scheme was …show more content…
Here it is evident that the Supreme Court completely ignores its responsibility to protect minorities as prosecutors are granted the ability to use their preemptive strikes in racially- motived ways so long as they do not explicitly state their racism. The Court ruled in Batson v. Kentucky that prosecutors are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race when selecting juries (Alexander, 116). However, prosecutors have found a way to work around this ruling, which has been deemed completely legal by the Supreme Court decision in Purkett v.

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