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Imprisoned by the PastWarren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty$
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Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199967933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199967933.001.0001

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Warren McCleskey and the Baldus Study

Warren McCleskey and the Baldus Study

Chapter 12 Warren McCleskey and the Baldus Study
Imprisoned by the Past

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier

Oxford University Press

This chapter recounts how death penalty lawyers attempted to raise constitutional challenges to capital punishment based upon racial discrimination. One approach was to use statistics to show that capital punishment was racially biased. Although courts rejected early statistical studies for being incomplete, a more thorough landmark study would be used in Warren McCleskey’s case. This chapter further describes the important research on race and the death penalty completed by David Baldus, Charles Pulaski Jr., and George Woodworth. Soon, McCleskey’s case of McCleskey v. Kemp became the leading “Baldus study” case, carrying the burden of the country’s history of racism and the death penalty through the federal courts all the way to the Supreme Court.

Keywords:   racial discrimination, Baldus study, David Baldus, McCleskey v. Kemp, death penalty, race, capital punishment, racism, statistics, Supreme Court

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