New Brunswick, N.J. (July 26, 2019) – Brittany Friedman, a Rutgers expert on punishment, social control, and racial inequality, is available to comment on the news that the federal government will resume executions of death row inmates after a nearly two-decade hiatus.
“There are currently 62 federal inmates on death row and to order the killing of 5 of them, only a short time from now, sends a clear message about who controls the right to live and die in this country. Such a proclamation implies the desire to remind us that the nation state gains its power from the legal right to kill those deemed ‘undesirable,’” Friedman said.
“In 1994, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun confirmed that ‘the death penalty experiment has failed,’ largely because racial minorities were sentenced to die at levels far beyond their proportion in both the general population and the population of criminal offenders. This disparity and the rush to reinstate it suggests the government’s right to kill is disproportionately wielded against nonwhites by design, who prior to conviction are labeled as criminal because of skin color alone,” she said.
Friedman is an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty affiliate of the criminal justice program at Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences.
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