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An execution in Florida is a reminder of the racial imbalance in death penalty cases

On Thursday, the state of Florida executed Mark Asay, who was convicted of killing Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in Jacksonville in 1988.

There are two ways in which the Asay execution was unusual. First, the state used a previously unused drug to put Asay to death. And second, it’s the first time that Florida has executed a white man for killing a black man — Booker — since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976.

Racial disparities like this are certainly not limited to executions in the American judicial system. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that incidents in which whites kill black people are far more likely to be determined to be justified than other sorts of killings. Overall, 2 percent of killings were determined to be justified between 1980 and 2014, according to that report, citing data from the Marshall Project. When a white person killed a black person, 17 percent of the killings were said to be justified.


Since the death penalty was reintroduced, the number of nonwhite people who’ve been executed has consistently been overrepresented. While most of those who are executed are white, they consistently make up a lower percentage of the population of those put to death than of the country on the whole.

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Tags: #DeathPenalty, #incarceration, #injusticesystem, #justicesystem, #race
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