POLI 203
Race, Innocence, and the End of the Death Penalty
Lectures: M, W, 11:15am-12:05pm, Genome Sciences Building G100
Note the evening speakers events, 5:30-7:00pm, as well, see below for dates

Spring 2020

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

Office hours: M, W 12:15-1:30pm and by appointment

Special Zoom office hours during the period of campus closure: M, W, 11am to 12:30pm, https://unc.zoom.us/j/391002438

Click here for the syllabus. Click here for updates related to social distancing from March 17, 2020. Click here for updates about the revised format of the final exam. See here for a summary of the revised grade calculation formula. See here a memo concerning grade options, your tentative grades being posted, and other matters from April 29, 2020.

Click here for more information about the speakers series or the poster

Click here for information about VitalSource, a website that allows UNC students access to electronic versions of hundreds of textbooks. If during the time you cannot come to campus you lack access to your books, this may allow you to get remote access electronically. Please see the class Sakai page (Resources section) for a copy of the page proofs of Deadly Justice, for those of you who don't have access to your copy because of the social distancing measures. (Note: these are the "corrected page proofs" which is the last stage before publication and what authors read to check for typos. Otherwise it's the same as the published book.)

Click here for information about your option to elect a Pass/Fail grading option, announced by the Chancellor on March 20, 2020. Given the disruption to our course, I would strongly recommend that all of you adopt the P/F option.

Books required for all students to purchase:

  1. Baumgartner, Frank R., Marty Davidson, Kaneesha R. Johnson, Arvind Krishnamurthy, and Colin P. Wilson. 2018. Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Rachlin, Benjamin. 2017. Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Books required for different sections. Depending on your section and TA, you'll read ONE of the following books.

  1. Woodfox, Albert. 2019. Solitary. New York: Grove Press.
  2. Marlowe, Jen, and Martine Davis-Correia, with Troy Davis. 2013. I Am Troy Davis. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books.
  3. Temple, John. 2009. The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press.
  4. Grisham, John. 2006. The Innocent Man. New York: Doubleday.
  5. Liebman, James S., Shawn Crowley, Andrew Markquart, Lauren Rosenberg, Lauren White, Daniel Zharkovsky. 2014 The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution.  New York:  Columbia University Press.
  6. Hinton, Anthony Ray, with Lara Love Hardin. 2018. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. New York: St. Martin’s.
  7. Prejean, Sister Helen. 2005. The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. New York: Random House.

Weekly schedule and discussion topics

Readings should all be done before the Monday class.

Week 1, Jan 8, Introduction and overview (slides)

Week 2, Jan 13, 15 Furman, Gregg, and the Modern Death Penalty System

Week 3, Jan 22 Who Commits Homicide? Who is Victimized? Who gets Executed? For Which Crimes?

***(Note: No class on Monday Jan 20, Happy MLK day)***

Week 4, Jan 27, 29 The Worst of the Worst?

*** Special Guest on Jan 29: Robert Dunham, Executive Director, Death Penalty Information Center***
***Evening Speaker, Jan 29: Kirk Bloodsworth***

Week 5, Feb 3, 5 Geography, reversals, delay, exonerations

***Evening Speaker, Feb 4: David Boyce***

Week 6, Feb 10, 12 Lethal Injection, the Electric Chair, and Related Controversies

***Special Guest on Feb 12: Henderson Hill, attorney for Curtis Flowers, RJA appellate attorney, and noted civil rights attorney***
***Evening Speaker, Feb 12: Kristine Bunch***

Week 7, Feb 17, 19 Catching up: Innocence and Methods of Execution

***Evening Speakers, Feb 19: Gary Griffin and Ken Rose***

Week 8, Feb 24, 26 Mental Health, Public Opinion, Cost, Deterrence

***Paper #1 due in section to your TA this week. This paper should go into detail about one of the topics from Deadly Justice but go well beyond the book. See detailed instructions and possible paper topics here. If you want do a topic not listed here, you must have prior approval from your TA.***

***Evening Speakers, Feb 26: Dontae Sharpe and Theresa Newman ***

Week 9, Mar 2, 4 North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act and the Future of NC’s Death Penalty

***Special Guest on March 4: Judge Gregory Weeks, presiding judge in the 2012 RJA cases.***

***Evening Speaker, Mar 2: Jimmy Dennis***

Spring Break, Mar 7–15

Week 10, Mar 16, 18 (Classes cancelled due to pandemic; revised schedule listed below) Please see this memo concerning revised assignments.

Week 11, Mar 23, 25 Assessing a Broken System

Week 12, Mar 30, Apr 1 Ghost of the Innocent Man, I

Week 13, Apr 6, 8 Ghost of the Innocent Man, II

***Paper #2 due in section to your TA this week. This paper should focus on a particular part of the book your section read, and should contribute to your collective presentation about the book to the larger lecture class. Note, this is the revised due date; the syllabus says week 10 but I've moved it to week 11. Note again: the assignment is longer now and replaces the group presentation***

Week 14, Apr 13, 15 North Carolina's Recent History with the Death Penalty

Week 15, Apr 20, 22 Conclusions and Review

Final Exam:  Originally scheduled for Tuesday May 5, noon to 3pm (Note: this is tentative, subject to possible change based on decisions by the Chancellor and Provost). Revised final exam requirements:

Part A (50 percent). Five additional 10-question quizzes, to be taken at any time during the period between Monday April 27 and the end of exam time, 3pm Tuesday May 5.

Part B (30 percent). Two additional posts in your discussion section Sakai forums. These will be due according to the schedule given by your TA, but no later than the last day of scheduled class.

Part C (20 percent). A short narrative response to a prompt to be provided on Monday May 4 and due by the end of exam time, 3pm Tuesday May 5. This response will be approximately 300 words and will be graded acceptable or not acceptable. Any answer that engages seriously with the material will be marked acceptable. Unacceptable answers will be those fewer than 100 words, ones that are off-topic, or ones that simply express an opinion rather than an engagement with the course materials.

Section Locations, Time, TAs, and Book
001 Genome - G100 MW 11:15-12:05 (Main Lecture)
600 Hamilton - 0425 W 12:20-1:10 Kevin Roach, I Am Troy Davis
601 Hamilton - 0517 W 12:20-1:10 Isaac Mehlhaff, Wrong Carlos
602 Hamilton - 0423 W 12:20-1:10 Tyler Ditmore, Solitary
603 Wilson - 0202 W 1:25-2:15 Tyler Ditmore, Solitary
604 Hamilton - 0523 W 1:25-2:15 Kevin Roach, I Am Troy Davis
605 Hamilton - 0517 W 1:25-2:15 Isaac Mehlhaff, Wrong Carlos
606 Hanes Art - 0118W 2:30-3:20 Sean Norton, The Last Lawyer
607 Hamilton - 0150 W 2:30-3:20 Kevin Roach, I Am Troy Davis
608 Hamilton - 0523 W 2:30-3:20 Isaac Mehlhaff, Wrong Carlos
609 Hamilton - 0423 W 3:35-4:25 Philip Warncke, Death of Innocents
610 Hamilton - 0420 W 3:35-4:25 Sean Norton, The Last Lawyer
611 Hamilton - 0150 W 3:35-4:25 Lauren Bauman, Sun Does Shine
612 Hamilton - 0423 TH 2:00-2:50 Christian Caron, Innocent Man
613 Hamilton - 0420 TH 2:00-2:50 Lauren Bauman, Sun Does Shine
614 Dey - 303A TH 3:30-4:20 Sean Norton, The Last Lawyer
615 Dey - 0306 TH 3:30-4:20 Christian Caron, Innocent Man
616 Tate Turner - 0114 F 8:00-8:50 Tyler Ditmore, Solitary
617 Hamilton - 0351 F 8:00-8:50 Christian Caron, Innocent Man
618 Graham - 0213 TH 3:30-4:20 Philip Warncke, Death of Innocents
619 Hamilton - 0517 TH 5:00-5:50 Philip Warncke, Death of Innocents

TA emails, office locations, and office hours:
Lauren Bauman, <lebauman@live.unc.edu>, Ham 303, M 3:30-6:30
Christian Caron, <cjcaron@unc.edu>, Ham 374B, TH 10:45-1:45
Tyler Ditmore, <tditmore@live.unc.edu>, Ham 300, F 9-12
Isaac Mehlhaff, <mehlhaff@live.unc.edu>, Ham 301, M 9-10, W 3:30-5:30
Sean Norton, <stnorton@live.unc.edu>, Ham 451, M 1-2:30 and TH 1:30-3,
Kevin Roach, <kevroach@live.unc.edu>, Ham 374B, M 12:30-2:30, W 3:30-4:30
Philip Warncke, <pwarncke@live.unc.edu>, Ham 301, W 12:30-3:30


Colin Case, <crcase@live.unc.edu>
Begum Icelliler, <bebegum@email.unc.edu>

Grade Scales:

We'll use this scale to translate grades from a numeric (0-100) point scale to letter grades: A= 100-92.5; A- = 92.49-90; B+ = 89.9-87; B = 86.99-82.5; B- = 82.49-80; C+ = 79.9-77; C = 76.99-72.5; C- = 72.49-70; D = 69.99-60; F = below 60. Note that under the Emergency Grading Accommodation announced by the Chancellor and the Provost on March 20, 2020, students may elect to receive a grade of Pass if they have a grade of A-D.

Special email for issues and concerns about participation grades in the evening speakers series: unc.poli203@gmail.com. Please note: For the purpose of grading and attendance, all of you will be marked "present" for all the speakers events that we were forced to cancel. So there will be no grading penalty to any of you.

Useful web sites to consult throughout the term:
http://fbaum.unc.edu/books/DeadlyJustice/index.html. Look particularly at the links included there.
An interesting NYT story from 1988 about what it's like to be a capital defender.
HBO documentary, True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality (2019): https://youtu.be/JfZPl4CFEUc
If any of you are from Winston Salem, or even if not, you may be interested in this film: The Trials of Darryl Hunt. Darryl was a friend, and wonderful person; he previously spoke in this class. This documentary tells about his wrongful conviction for a brutal killing and the horrible racial dynamics surrounding the trial. He served almost 20 years in prison and when he returned to the community he was a leader for reform.

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:

Regarding possible visits to Death Row at Central Prison in Raleigh. I have arranged to make visits to Central Prison on these dates: March 9, 13, 20, 27, April 3, 17, 24, 27, May 1, 4, 8. Most of those are Fridays, but a few are Mondays coinciding with Spring Break or finals week. We can take a total of 29 students and one instructor on each visit. Click here to go to a Google spreadsheet where you can sign up for a visit. Please reserve this for students in this class until March 1, after which you can invite your room-mate or friends if there is room. We will car-pool, so if you can drive, please indicate how many people you can transport, including yourself. If you live in or near Raleigh and prefer to meet right at the prison (for example, for the visits that are during spring break), please indicate that as well so we don't wait for you on campus. We will meet on campus to carpool to the prison, which is located at 1300 Western Bd, Raleigh NC 27606. Visits are strictly scheduled only from 9 to 11am, so we will meet here on campus at 8am and we should be back to campus at about noon or a little later. Please review this dress code carefully. Note the concern about body piercings, jeans, and shoes. (Surgical implants: you will need a letter from your doctor.) Everyone has to go through a very sensitive metal detector. The prison staff will simply deny entry if you do not meet the criteria, and you'll have to sit in a waiting room for 2 hours for the rest of the group to complete their tour. So please pay very careful attention to the dress code. PLEASE NOTE, ALL PRISON TOURS WERE CANCELLED AS A RESULT OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS.

Poll Everywhere: Please register as soon as possible, following these instructions (carefully!). The key element is to ensure that your UNC onyen is linked to your poll everywhere account; only if this is true can we record your scores. Go to https://poll.unc.edu, and follow the instructions under "Student FAQ's". We'll use this for in-lecture quizzes and to take attendance at the evening speakers events. It's imperative that you be properly registered. If you need to find me, look for: “frankrbaumga476” on the poll everywhere site.

A note from Mark Katz, Professor of Music here at UNC, who has gotten to know Michael Braxton, also known as Alim. He writes: "Also, here’s a link to some new tracks by Alim: https://soundcloud.com/rromealone. The new tracks are the first five. The beats were made by Nick Neutronz, a producer that I connected Alim with. Your students might enjoy listening to these."

And, of course, when Dontae Sharpe mentioned the song he was reminded of when he was arrested, Murder was the case, I had to get that for you.

page last updated May 15, 2020