St. Louis Public Radio News
9:18 am
Mon January 6, 2003

Report Points Out Inequality of MO Death Penalty

St. Louis, MO – A new report says defendants in capital murder trials in Missouri are charged selectively and treated unfairly.

The report was compiled by three academic researchers in Missouri and New York. When they examined Missouri death penalty cases between 1978 and 1996, they found that minority and ecnomically disadvanteaged defendants are charged and convicted more often than whites and those with money.

"When you really look at these cases and you do analysis, you come to realize that it's not necessarily horrible murders that get the death penalty," says University of Missouri researcher Michael Lenza. "You know, if has more to do with representation and social class than factors of the case itself."

The report also concludess that cases involving black victims don't receive the same attention as those with white victims.