Study of LA Homicides, Executions Shows ‘Stark Disparities’ Based on Race

A review of Louisiana homicide and death penalty cases going back to 1976 found that convicted murderers who killed black males were less likely to be executed than those who killed other victims, according to a study forthcoming in the Loyola University of New Orleans Journal of Public Interest Law. The data analyzed by the study authors, Frank Baumgartner and Tim Lyman, demonstrate what they conclude are stark disparities in the use of the death penalty, depending on the race and gender of the victim. “Young black males have extremely high rates of homicide victimization compared to other categories,” the authors write. “However, the death penalty is used only very rarely in those cases where the victim is a black male.” The study found that the rate of capital punishment per homicide gradually declines from white females to white males, to black females, and finally to black males—who make up 61 percent of all homicide victims in Louisiana.