Published on: Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The death penalty in Kentucky has been used sparingly in the last 30-plus years, but its use shows racial biases, according to a new report from local researchers and other experts (article available here).

In cases eligible for the death penalty, those with white victims have been far more likely to end in the convict being sentenced to death, according to a report from Professor Frank Baumgartner at UNC Chapel-Hill and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Kentucky has handed down 82 death sentences since 1975. In those instances, cases with white victims were five times more likely to result in a death sentence than cases with Black victims, according to the report. Black men have been 20 times more likely to receive a death sentence when the victim is a white female.

Black male victims account for nearly 30 percent of all homicide victims in Kentucky, but fewer than 8 percent of death sentence cases in Kentucky involved a Black victim.