POLI 203
Race, Innocence, and the End of the Death Penalty
Mondays, Wednesdays, 3:35–4:25 pm
Stone Center 103, Spring 2016

Prof. Frank R. Baumgartner
313 Hamilton Hall, phone 962-0414
Web site: http://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/

Office hours: M, W, 2:00-3:30 pm and by appointment

[Note: This page is in constant development throughout the term during which the course is taught.]

Teaching assistants, offices, and office hours:
Rob Williams, jrw@live.unc.edu, Hamilton 303, M 1:30-3pm, W 10-11:30am, and by appointment.
Josh Jansa, jansa@email.unc.edu, Hamilton 312, M, W 1-2:30pm and by appointment.
Amy Sentementes, sentemen@email.unc.edu, Hamilton 301, W 12:30-2:30, Th, 1:30-2:30pm, and by appointment.
Mitch Watkins, jmitchellwatkins@unc.edu, Hamilton 303, Th 2-3:30pm, Fri 10-11am, and by appointment.
John Lovett, jllovett@email.unc.edu, Hamilton 459, Wed 12-2pm and Th 11am-noon, and by appointment.

Class assistants / graders:
Leah Christiani, christiani@unc.edu

Click here for the syllabus.

Click here for your paper assignments due March 9 and April 20. Click here to see what we are looking for in any paper.

Click here to see the speakers series (printable version); larger poster version; jpg or png formats of the poster if you want to advertize.

Readings are below. You should purchase the three books that we will read in full, and all other readings should have a hyperlink below. Let me know if you have problems with any of the links.

Note: Because of the nature of the subject matter in this course, including murder, torture, and unspeakable crimes, many of the readings include passages that may be quite upsetting.

Week 1, Jan 11, 13, Introduction and overview; The Death and Revival of the Death Penalty in 1972 and 1976 in the Supreme Court’s Furman and Gregg Decisions

  1. Furman v. Georgia, which invalidated the death penalty in 1972
  2. Gregg v. Georgia, which established the “modern” death penalty in 1976
  3. Garland, David.  2010.  Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Chapter 9, New Political and Cultural Meanings, pp. 231-255.
  4. slides for Wednesday. See the quiz on facts from Jan 11, and the results for both the quiz and the survey on opinions. You did not do very well, collectively!

Week 2, Jan 20, Capital Crimes, Capital Trials, and Capital Appeals
(No class on Jan 18, happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

  1. Jost, Kenneth.  2010.  Death Penalty Debates: Is the capital punishment system working?  CQ Researcher 20 (41, Nov. 19):  965-988.
  2. Welty, Jeff.  2012.  The Death Penalty in North Carolina:  History and Overview.  Working paper, UNC School of Government, April.
  3. For reference: Maps of NC district courts, superior courts, prosecutorial districts, overview of the judicial system.
  4. Slides

Week 3, Jan 25, 27, The Life of a Death Row Attorney in a Hostile Environment

  1. Just Mercy, Ch. 1-8, pp. 1–162. Slides for Monday (includes catch-up from last week), Wednesday. Extra slides on homicides, also for Wednesday.

Week 4, Feb 1, 3, More on Bryan Stevenson

  1. Just Mercy, Ch. 9-Epilogue, pp. 163–314. Slides for Monday, extra slides on juvenile culpability from the MacArthur Foundation, slides for Wednesday.

Speaker, Feb 1, Anthony Ray Hinton
Mr. Hinton served 30 years on Alabama’s death row; he was innocent.

Cartoon exhibit, Windows on Death Row, opens at the Carolina Union, Feb 2

Week 5, Feb 8, 10, Race and Injustice

  1. Baumgartner, Frank R., Amanda Grigg, and Alisa Mastro.  2015. #BlackLivesDon’tMatter:  Race-of-Victim Effects in US Executions, 1977-2013. Politics, Groups, and Identities 3, 2: 209–21.
  2. Rattan A, Levine CS, Dweck CS, Eberhardt JL. 2012.  Race and the Fragility of the Legal Distinction between Juveniles and Adults. PLoS ONE 7, 5: e36680.
  3. Eberhardt, Jennifer L., Paul G. Davies, Valerie J. Purdie-Vaughns, and Sheri Lynn Johnson.  2005/06. Looking Deathworthy: Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes. Psychological Science 17, 5: 383-6.
  4. Smith, Robert J. and G. Ben Cohen.  2012. Capital Punishment: Choosing Life or Death (Implicitly).  In Justin D. Levinson and Robert J. Smith, eds.  Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law.  New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 229–43.
  5. Slides for Monday, slides for Wednesday

Speakers, Feb 8, Fernando Bermudez, LaMonte Armstrong, and Theresa NewmanBermudez served 18 years in New York; Armstrong served 18 years in North Carolina; both were innocent.  Newman is an attorney with the Duke Innocence Project.

Week 6, Feb 15, 17, Levon Bo Jones goes to death row

  1. The Last Lawyer, Part I, pp. 1-92. Slildes for Monday (class cancelled after a little sleet), Wednesday

Week 7, Feb 22, 24, Levon Bo Jones goes free

  1. The Last Lawyer, Part II, pp. 93-234. Slides for Monday, Wednesday (class cancelled after the quiz for a tornado warning)

Speakers, Feb 22, Gary Griffin and Ken Rose
Ken Rose is Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.  Before representing Bo Jones, he represented Gary Griffin, then on Mississippi’s death row.  Mr. Griffin is now a capital investigator in Jackson, Mississippi.

Week 8, Feb 29, Mar 2, The Geography of the Death Penalty

  1. Dieter, Richard C.  2013.  The 2% death Penalty:  How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases at Enormous Costs to All.  Washington, DC:  Death Penalty Information Center.
  2. Donohue III, John J.  2014.  An Empirical Evaluation of the Connecticut Death Penalty System Since 1973: Are There Unlawful Racial, Gender, and Geographic Disparities?  Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 11, 4 (December): 637–96. (For reference, you can just skim this as it is pretty dense.)
  3. Scheidegger, Kent S.  Mend It, Don’t End It.  Report to the Connecticut General Assembly on Capital Punishment, April 2011. (Read this in more detail, as it is a pro-death penalty rebuttal of the Donohue study above.)
  4. Slides for Monday, Wednesday. See a draft set of maps showing homicides and executions. Note this is not yet ready for publication, but it is cool.

Speakers, Feb 29, Beverly and Katie Monroe
Beverly was wrongfully convicted of murder and served 11 years for a crime that never even occurred.  Katie is her daughter, a lawyer, who got her mom out of jail.

Week 9, Mar 7, 9, North Carolina’s Revolutionary 2009 Racial Justice Act and its Aftermath

  1. O’Brien, Barbara, and Catherine M. Grosso. 2011.  Confronting Race: How a Confluence of Social Movements Convinced North Carolina to Go where the McCleskey Court Wouldn’t. Michigan State Law Review 2011: 463-504.
  2. Kotch, Seth, and Robert P. Mosteller.  2010.  The Racial Justice Act and the Long Struggle with Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina.  UNC Law Review 88: 2031-2132. 
  3. Racial Justice Act, 2009
  4. Reform of the Racial Justice Act, 2011
  5. Elimination of the Racial Justice Act, 2013
  6. Restoring Proper Justice Act, 2015
  7. State of North Carolina v. Marcus Reymond Robinson, Order Granting Motion for Appropriate Relief, 91 CRS 23143, 20 April 2012.
  8. State v. Robinson, (411A94-5), NC Supreme Court ruling vacating the 2012 State v. Robinson decision, 18 December 2015.
  9. Slides for Monday, slides for Wednesday

*****First paper due in lecture Wed Mar 9.*****

Speakers, March 7 “Serving Life” – Performances based on life stories from inmates
The inmates can’t be with us, but their stories from Central Prison in Raleigh will cut deeply.
Listen to an interview with Lynden Harris and Jennifer Thompson on WUNC-FM
concerning this event, from The State of Things on Friday March 4, 2016

Spring Break, Mar 12-20

Week 10, Mar 21, 23 Public Opinion, Racial Sentiment, and Death Sentences

  1. Peffley, Mark, and Jon Hurwitz.  2007.  Persuasion and Resistance: Race and the Death Penalty in America.  American Journal of Political Science 51, 4: 996-1012.
  2. Baumgartner, Frank R., Suzanna DeBoef and Amber E. Boydstun.  2009.  The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence (New York: Cambridge University Press), ch 6 (public opinion): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (Note: the file is in 3 parts because the individual PDF's got too big. Make sure you download and read all 3.)
  3. Slides for Monday; slides for Wednesday; link to recent article to look at for Wednesday, updating what you read from 2009.

Week 11, Mar 28, 30, Introduction to the Troy Davis case

  1. I Am Troy Davis, pp. 1-160.
  2. Background on the extensive media coverage associated with the Troy Davis execution: here are links to representative stories from the New York Times; Washington Post; and one from the Savannah Morning News about when Troy turned himself in.
  3. Slides for Monday, slides for Wednesday

Week 12, Apr 4, 6, Troy Davis, part 2

  1. I Am Troy Davis, pp. 160-271.
  2. Slides for Monday, slides for Wednesday previewing next week

Speaker, Apr 4, Kimberly Davis
Kimberly’s brother Troy was executed by the State of Georgia on September 21, 2011 amid a world-wide movement proclaiming his innocence. Click on the link for more information about the photo exhibition shown in conjunction with Ms. Davis' talk.

Week 13, Apr 11, 13, Innocence in North Carolina and the US

  1. Radelet, Michael L., and Marian J. Borg.  2000.  The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates.  Annual Review of Sociology 26:  43-61.
  2. Baumgartner, Frank R., Suzanna Linn and Amber E. Boydstun. 2010.  The Decline of the Death Penalty: How Media Framing Changed Capital Punishment in America.  In Brian F. Schaffner and Patrick J. Sellers, eds.  Winning with Words:  The Origins and Impact of Framing.  New York:  Routledge, pp. 159–84.
  3. Slides for Monday; slides for Wednesday on gender

Speakers, Apr 11, Duke Innocence Project attorneys
University-based innocence projects throughout the country work to free innocent individuals.  Sometimes they succeed, but often they do not.

Week 14, Apr 18, 20, Mental Illness, Lethal Injection, Botched and Delayed Executions, and Torture

  1. Slides for Monday on mental illness; slides for Wednesday on botches.

*****Second paper due in lecture Wed Apr 20.*****

Speakers, Apr 18,  Jennifer Thompson, Ronald Cotton, Rich Rosen, and Mike Gauldin
2010 Carolina Common Read Picking Cotton focuses on the story of these individuals.

Week 15, Apr 25, 27, “Life in Prison with the Remote Possibility of Death” – Unconstitutional, according to a Federal Judge; Review for Final Exam

  1. Glossip v. Gross, which validated lethal injection in 2015, but in which Justice Breyer raised several issues in his dissent.
  2. Ernest Dewayne Jones v Kevin Chappell, Order Declaring California’s Death Penalty System Unconstitutional and Vacating Petitioner’s Death Sentence, CV 09-02158-CJC 16 July 2014. (This decision was later reject on appeal on procedural grounds.)
  3. Slides for Monday, review slides for Wednesday

Final Exam: Thursday May 5, 4:00-6:00pm, 103 Stone Center

Useful web sites to consult throughout the term:
An interesting NYT story from 1988 about what it's like to be a capital defender.
During his talk last year, Ken Rose talked about a film called "Fourteen Days in May" about one of his clients from Mississippi. Here is a youtube link to this film, which runs about 90 minutes.

Compassion is a newletter / magazine published six times per year containing articles written by death-row prisoners across the country, and distributed for free to all death row inmates. The current editor is George Wilkerson, on North Carolina's death row.

In 2014 Glenn Ford was exonerated after 30 years on death row in Louisiana. The prosecutor in his case all those years ago, Marty Stroud, has recorded this apology to him. Mr Ford has already passed away now from lung cancer.

Resources related to juvenile LWOP and related matters:

We have the opportunity to visit Death Row at Central Prison in Raleigh. Visits take place on these dates, and signing up ahead of time is mandatory. (I need to give them a head-count in advance, and 30 people per visit is the maximum number of visitors.) You can sign up during lectures or at our evening lecture events. On the sign-up sheet please indicate if you can drive, how many you can take in your car, or if you need a ride.

Details: We will meet at the Raleigh Road Visitor's Parking Lot, which is near the corner or South / Raleigh Rd (Hwy 54) and Country Club Road, kiddy-corner from the School of Government. We will assemble there at 7:45am to depart at 8:00am sharp. Central Prison is at 1300 Western Blvd, Raleigh 27606. On arrival just park in the visitor's parking lot and wait in the visitor's entrance (a little building with about 50 chairs in a waiting room. We will assemble there for the tour which starts at 9am, and lasts 2 hours. You must be 18 years old, and have an id, preferably a drivers license. It is very important that you comply with the very strict regulations for visitors. Here is a set of instructions. Please print this out and follow the instructions exactly, as the prison can deny admission to anyone. They will not let you in with whatever they consider to be "contraband" or if you are dressed in a way that they do not approve of. That means no tight or revealing clothes, no metal, and no shorts. They have a very sensitive metal detector, and if you can't get through it, you can't proceed. Leave your cell phones in the car or at home (duh). Just bring your ID, and if you are driving, bring you car keys. Leave everything else home or in the car. Watch this space for more details and additional dates if needed. Note: This visit is not a requirement for the course. However, students who have done it in the past have been glad they did. You will see many areas of the prison, including general population, "recreation" areas, segregation (solitary confinement) areas, death row, the actual death chamber and its waiting / holding area, and possibly other areas such as the hospital, depending on who does the tour. I strongly recommend it, but the schedule is only on Monday and Friday mornings and I know some of you will not be able to do it.

page last updated April 27, 2016