BY MATT KELLEY
CATEGORIES: DEATH PENALTY, INDIGENT DEFENSE, RACE
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 10, 2009 @ 03:56PM PT
If you hire a lawyer, the chances are you won't be sentenced to death in Houston.
University of Denver Criminologist Scott Phillips reviewed 504 capital indictments over three decades in Harris County, Texas, and found that defendants who hired lawyers for the entire trial were never sentenced to death -- and were more likely to be acquitted.
The results of his study, published over the summer in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, are truly stunning. Since nearly all defendants facing the death penalty in Harris County were poor, Phillips argues that his results further demonstrate the arbitrariness of capital punishment. If a defendant's family and community is able to pool resources to hire an attorney, the paid attorney might be better equipped to investigate a case or to bring bargaining power to the table against a district attorney.
He makes clear that his findings aren't an indictment of appointed attorneys, but of the system that straddles those attorneys with thin resources in a death penalty case. Something clearly went wrong for results this drastic. In other words the poor are at risk in Texas, US of America --- Most Blacks are poor and uneducated in this rich nation.Remember the two young blacks who were tied to a pick-up and dragged for miles and then dumped alive into a river by a klu klux klan member. Would it be a pipe dream to imagine blacks and poor would be treated better in a rich and powerful nation in the 21st Century ?