Jurors' Stories of Death: How America's Death Penalty Invests in Inequality

Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Author, David Cole, Foreword by
Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Author, David Cole, Foreword by University of Michigan Press $26.95 (199p) ISBN 978-0-472-06860-9
Hardcover - 199 pages - 978-0-472-09860-6
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Opponents of the death penalty will find more fuel for the fire in this study of jurors who have voted to sentence someone to death. As civil rights expert David Cole puts it in his foreword, the book opens up the""black box"" of jury deliberations and reveals that decisions on whether or not to administer the death penalty are influenced by""jurors' attitudes--conscious or unconscious--about race and class."" Fleury-Steiner, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware, lets capital jurors speak in their own words, which reveal thinking that the author sees as paternalistic, simplistic or as reinforcing the juror's sense of white superiority. Typifying this last form of thinking, one woman said,""I saw the defendant as a very typical product of the lower socioeconomic black group who grew up with no values, no ideals, no authority, no morals."" This""us"" vs.""them"" mentality on the part of jurors, says Fleury-Steiner, is evidence that the death penalty is administered unfairly and should be abolished. At the very least, this book should serve as fodder for discussion.
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