Statistics Show Blacks More Likely to Get Death Penalty

iffany Settles, Contributing Writer

A convicted killer was executed on Wednesday, November 10, 2004, in Huntsville, Texas, for the 1996 fatal shooting of a man during a car theft.

According to BlackAmericaWeb.com Frederick McWilliams, a 30-year-old black male convicted of shooting and killing a man while stealing a car, was the 22nd man to be executed in Texas this year. Two more convicts were scheduled for execution by lethal injection the following week. McWilliams criminal record included armed robbery convictions, and he was on probation when he was arrested for the beating and shooting of Alfonso Rodriguez at an apartment complex in Houston.

“There are people that will be mad thinking I try to seek freedom from this, but as long as I see, freedom belongs to me and I’ll keep on keeping on,” McWilliams told AP reporters. "The shackles and chains that just might hold my body can’t hold my mind.”

When asked by the warden if he had a final statement, McWilliams replied, “Well, here we are again folks in the catacombs of justice.”

If the scheduled executions for the remainder of November and December are carried out, there will have been 25 executions in Texas this year, which is one more than 2003. A record number of 40 executions took place in 2000.

Evidence has shown that the death penalty is racially biased. Critics say McWilliams’ execution is part of a disturbing pattern; it proves that the criminal justice system values white life more highly than Blacks. Out of the 22 people that were executed in Texas this year, 18 were executed for killing Whites. Only four were executed for killing someone Black, while no White person has been executed this year for killing a Black person.

Forty-two percent of all inmates on death row are Black, while Blacks only make up about 13 percent of the population. Blacks who murder whites are 15 times more likely to be executed than if they murdered other Blacks, says a report from Amnesty International USA.

Amnesty International USA, which opposes the death penalty, also said that 80 percent of the 845 people executed since the United States resumed the practice in 1977 were put to death for killing White people. Amnesty International USA’s findings are compiled from government statistics and its own tracking, and shows that the death penalty is applied unfairly.