As Republicans attempt to increase the use of the death penalty, Black-led organizations are working to stop those efforts, citing the disproportionate impact the punishment would have on Black inmates, reports The Hill. Tennessee, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey are each considering legislation that would either reinstate the death penalty, make it easier for jurors to agree to a death sentence verdict or prevent a judge from reducing a jury's death sentence to life in prison. Since 1976, Black and brown Americans have accounted for 43% of total executions, says the American Civil Liberties Union. Non-whites make up 55% of incarcerated people currently awaiting execution. Forty-one percent of death row inmates are Black.
“The rhetoric around race ... where anything that has to do with Black history or understanding the role of institutional racism is being attacked by certain political factions [is concentrated in] states where those factions are stronger,” said Jamila Hodge of Equal Justice USA. About 60% of adults favor the death penalty for some murderers, according to Pew Research Center. More than half of adults say Black people are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for similar crimes. Another 63% don’t believe the death penalty deters people from committing serious crimes, and 78% worry about the risk that an innocent person will be executed. Twenty-seven states allow the death penalty, while several have pending proposals to abolish capital punishment.