Right now, there are more than 3,100 inmates on death row -- more than 60% of them members of racial or ethnic minorities. Over time, Supreme Court Justices have fine-tuned the circumstances under which the death penalty may still apply, but no set of laws or jurisprudence can undo wrongful executions -- or, it seems, completely prevent them.
According to journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O'Brien, authors of Murder at the Supreme Court and my guests on this weekend's Moyers & Company, at least 18 inmates were released from death row in recent years because DNA evidence proved their innocence. These cases are among more than 140 death penalty exonerations over the last three decades.
Below, watch a clip from the upcoming show, in which Clancy and O'Brien make the case that -- for the poor in America -- justice is still unaffordable, especially when it comes to the death penalty.
"If you can afford a decent defense, you probably will not die in an execution chamber," Clancy tells Bill.
O'Brien points out, "if the victim is white and the perpetrator is black, you're ten or 11 times more likely to get a death sentence."
Re-posted from BillMoyers.com
Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television.