Death Penalty Trends Target African Americans

Gbemi Abon, Reporter

In the United States, an African American is more likely to receive the death penalty or to stand on death row than any other race.

It is not acceptable that in today’s society, the color of one’s skin still determines their right to live or die. This trend should not be ignored but should prompt individuals into action. This needs to be discussed amongst our community.

According to, African Americans currently account for 41.68% of the criminals on death row, while making up only 13.4% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. 2018 Census.

Being a young African American woman, it angers and frightens me that African Americans have a greater chance of receiving the death penalty. Our skin color is something we are born with and we cannot change it.

I believe it is absolutely ridiculous how the African American community is targeted within the capital punishment system.

“Black people are stopped, questioned, convicted and prosecuted at a far more alarming rate than white people in America,” Vice President of the Black Student Union at California Lutheran University Zino Ayetoma said.

As Americans, it is our duty to critique the injustice happening in our country. This is all to make America a better place for everyone and for future generations.

Recently, the case of Rodney Reed has shaken the nation. Reed is an African American man who was arrested and accused of the abduction, rape and murder of Stacey Stites, which occurred on April 22, 1996, according to TIME Magazine.

“It’s kinda reminiscent of the Emmett Till story, at least in the fact that he was persecuted unjustly and unfairly by white people,” Ayetoma said. “Sometimes, as seen with the Rodney Reed case, they aren’t even convicted with a proper amount of evidence.”

Reed was found guilty by an all-white jury in Bastrop, Texas and he was scheduled to be executed on Nov. 20, 2019 in Livingston, Texas. TIME Magazine reported that there is evidence and witness statements clearing Reed of the crime. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed his execution, according to TIME Magazine.

I believe that Reed deserves to have a fair trial and should not be executed with any doubts of his innocence.

“People of color are far more likely to be executed than white people, especially if thevictim [sic] is white,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “A systemic racial bias in the application of the death penalty exists at both the state and federal level. A moratorium on the death penalty is needed to address this miscarriage of justice.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in March 2019 placing a moratorium on capital punishment in the state, which granted a “reprieve” for people sentenced with the death penalty, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s “History of Capital Punishment in California.”

It is important for our generation to be aware and up-to-date with the injustices happening today in our nation. It makes me want to do better for the future of our justice system. We have to do better. We must do better.