Data shows few states impose the death penalty

Prisoner on Death Rowsource: The Slate
published: 6 January 2016

Carl Staples moved his family to Shreveport, Louisiana a few years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Forty years later, Staples had to walk past a Confederate flag atop a monument to the Confederacy on the Shreveport courthouse lawn in order to report for jury duty.

When the lawyers asked Mr. Staples whether he could be an impartial juror in a death penalty case—a question routinely asked and answered in the affirmative in courthouses across the country—his response likely stunned the room:

“The Confederate flag flies here. This is a symbol of one of the most, to me, one of the most heinous crimes ever committed to another member of the human race, and I just don’t see how you could say you’re here for justice and then again you continue to overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag which continues to put salt in the wounds of people of color. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it.”

In 2011, I travelled to Louisiana and stood with Carl Staples on the courthouse lawn. We asked Shreveport to take down that flag. During my visit, I learned that Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport and has a population of about 250,000 people, has been the site of more lynchings of black men than all but one other county in America.

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