5 Responses to Happy Memorial Day Weekend – May 24, 2009

  1. Zach says:

    One of my favorites. Gripping stuff, Neal.

  2. Nathan says:

    I don’t understand this cartoon. Are you saying that the State only executes the people marked in red? Are you saying that the odds of the people in the green slices being executed are much lower? I don’t see the race angle in the death penalty in Nebraska. 45% of death row is white, 36% is hispanic, and 19% is black. If you consider that Sandoval, Galinda, and Vela committed the same crime, 56% of death row is white, 18% is hispanic, and 26% is black. Hessler’s crime was against a hispanic girl, Mata’s crime was against a hispanic child, Ellis’ crime was against a black girl, and Gales’ was against two black children.

    So, am I off the mark on the meaning of the cartoon?

  3. Alex says:

    You don’t see the race angle? 85% of Nebraska is white, 8% hispanic, and 4% black. Given the extraordinarily high proportion of ethnic minorities in prisons relative to their population as a whole we’re forced to come to one of two conclusions. Either 1) you believe ethnic minorities carry out a disproportionately high amount of crime relative to their size of the population (racist and empirically not true), or 2) the criminal justice system in this state (and the country as a whole) is racist and classist – a fact which is reflected in the death penalty.

    Pointing to the fact that there are some whites on death row is negligent, and really it’s an outright stupid response.

    Nathan replied:

    From 1976 to 2005, 86% of white victims are killed by whites, 94% of black victims are killed by blacks. 52.2% of murders are committed by blacks, compared to 45.8% of murders committed by whites. In 2005, offending rates for blacks were more than SEVEN times higher than that for whites. Stranger homicides are more likely to cross racial boundaries. Victims who knew their attacker, the rate was 8% interracial. For victims who didn’t know their attacker, the rate was 25%.

    Source – Bureau of Justice Statistics Homicide trends in the U.S.

    Neals cartoon has “Black man who killed white kid,” “Mexican who killed white people,” Poor person who killed a rich person,” and “Black man who killed white woman.”

    Nebraska’s death row has on it a black man who raped and killed a black girl and a black man who killed two black children. SO, both of the black man categories on the dial is NOT represented in Nebraska.

    And the green categories also. How many capital cases involving those situations have been tried in Nebraska lately where the offender was sentenced to less than death or got off?

    I think that ignoring the statistics and facts that are out there regarding crimes and offenders is negligent, and saying that the state executes people who murder, dismember, and feed their victims to their dog, or kidnap, rape, then crush their skull to leave them in a shallow grave because of racism or classism is a stupid response.

    So, back to the original question to Neal, did I miss the point?

  4. neal says:


    It appears to me that you understand the point quite well; you just seem to be attempting to disprove a well-documented national phenomenon (race of the accused and race of the victim weighing on whether or not the death penalty is sought) with an extremely small sample size.

    Nebraska’s senators had two separate opportunities this session to adopt standards that would result in a less arbitrary application of the death penalty and they rejected both.

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