International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Capital Punishment in America: Ethnicity, Crime, and Social Justice
Martin Guevara Urbina, Ferris Roger Byxbe

As we progress in the 21st Century, the influence of race and ethnicity in crime and punishment continues to be a pressing issue. In effect, with various anti-social control movements, the nature of crime and punishment is once again being redefined. As in the past, this new punitive cycle of social control has revived what seems to be the sanction of last resort when all things fail: executions. A closer analysis, though, reveals that capital punishment is in fact not governed by crime trends, but by the simultaneous interaction of historical legacies, conflictive race and ethnic relations, and the influence of extra legal factors, like skin color and economics. In fact, the history of the death penalty in the U.S. is a story shaped and re-shaped by the race and ethnicity of the offender and victim, and further fused by various other factors at different points in time and geography. However, as a result of traditionally adopting a dichotomous approach of investigation, little is actually known about the ethnic realties of executed Latinos. This article, then, seeks to determine the exact ethnicity of Latinos executed in the U.S. from 1996 to 2012, while focusing on all Latino executions, post-Gregg (1976-2012), to better understand the ethnic experience in the current punitive anti-social control movement.

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