Poor justice records in death penalty counties

Radley Balko: Just 2 percent of counties in America are responsible for more than half the nation's executions

By Natasha Lennard

Published November 19, 2013 2:59PM (EST)

A report recently released by the Death Penalty Information Center found that a tiny percentage of counties within the 32 states in which the death penalty remains legal in the U.S. carry out the majority of execution. Two percent of counties, the report found, are responsible for more than half the death penalty killings.

Expanding on these findings, HuffPo's Radley Balko commented Tuesday that these counties also were drenched in patterns of prosecutorial overreach and miscarriages of justice. "There seems to be a strong correlation between counties that frequently send people to death row, and counties with high rates of wrongful conviction, forensics scandals and prosecutorial misconduct, as found by appeals courts," Balko noted, disabusing suggestions that high execution rates are some mark of justice being served.

In an extended article, Balko highlights instances of injustice in execution-friendly counties. For example, he notes:

The Death Penalty Information Center report touches on this a bit. For example, the report notes that in Orleans Parish, La., which leads the state in executions, there's a long, sordid history of prosecutorial misconduct. Orleans Parish has even been rebuked by the Supreme Court, though the Court refuses to hold the county liable.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Death Penalty Executions Justice Prosecutorial Overreach Prosecutors Radley Balko