Death Penalty and Ethnicity in Criminal Justice

Despite the fact that the death penalty is employed as a criminal sentence in 58 of the 193 United Nations countries throughout the world, the vast bulk of research on capital punishment perspectives has focused on Western countries, primarily the United States. In Alabama, Patricia Blackmon is on death row for the murder of a child. Patricia called 911 to report that a youngster was not breathing, according to court filings (Patricia Blackmon Women). When emergency personnel came, they were taken aback by what they saw. The boy was drenched in vomit and was wearing blood-soaked socks when he stopped breathing. When the child arrived at the hospital, physicians discovered a large number of fresh and old injuries and phoned the cops. Patricia Blackmon would be convicted of murder and felony child abuse, and put to death.

Patricia Blackmon dialed emergency 911 on May 29, 1999, to summon paramedics to her Dothan mobile home, according to the State’s evidence (Patricia Blackmon Women). Patricia Blackmon reported that her child was not breathing to the 911 operator. Eddie Smith, a Dothan paramedic, testified that he arrived at Patricia Blackmon’s mobile home about 9:30 p.m. and discovered Dominiqua lying on the master bedroom floor, wearing just a diaper and blood-soaked socks, covered in vomit, and unable to breathe. Her forehead had a hematoma, and her chest was covered in blood. She was taken to Flowers Hospital Emergency Room after paramedics attempted to resuscitate her. Dr. Matthew Krista testified that he saw Dominiqua in the emergency room and treated her. He said he first constructed an airway, but she was pronounced dead at 10:22 p.m. Dr. Robert Head, Dominiqua’s pediatrician, was also sent to the emergency room. The infant exhibited many bruises and contusions, as well as an imprint of a shoe sole on her chest, according to both doctors. They also said they saw marks on her body from past injuries.

Patricia Blackmon had adopted Dominiqua roughly nine months before she was slain, according to testimony. Patricia Blackmon had sole custody of the child from the time her father-in-law visited the two of them earlier on the evening of the murder until the infant’s death, according to testimony. Blackmon’s father-in-law, Wayne Johnson, testified that on the night Dominiqua was killed, he observed her playing and acting normally. Patricia Blackmon and Dominiqua, he said, departed his house at 8:00 p.m. Several blood-splattered items were discovered during a search of Patricia Blackmon’s mobile home. Blood was found on a broken pool cue, a child’s T-shirt, a pink flat bed sheet, a comforter, and two napkins, according to forensic examinations. The blood was same to Dominiqua’s.

In her defense, Patricia Blackmon called a number of witnesses. Dominiqua and Patricia Blackmon had been in communication with Judy Whatley, a Department of Human Resources staffer, once a month for five months prior to August 1998, and she noticed that the two had an excellent relationship. Tammy Freeman, a neighbor of Patricia Blackmon, testified that she routinely left her children with her. Patricia Blackmon was found guilty of capital murder by a jury. The State used the aggravating circumstance that the murder was extremely heinous, terrible, or cruel to warrant a death sentence at a second sentencing hearing. Following the sentencing hearing, the jury recommended that Patricia Blackmon be put to death by a vote of 10 to 2. The counsel for Dothan’s mother accused of stomping and beating her adopted daughter to death argued in front of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Tuesday that she does not deserve the death penalty.

According to above-mentioned description of what happened, I think that Patricia Blackmon’s death sentence is justifiable as all evidence suggest about her blame. However, the study of wrongly sentenced African American woman argue that in most cases African American women have a bias perspective towards them (Free and Ruesink, 2018). Prosecutorial misconduct and perjury by criminal justice authorities constituted the 2 most major variables contributing to wrongful convictions. The third most important factor was police misconduct, which was followed by ineffective assistance of counsel and a lack of evidence to support a conviction. The employment of informants, false confessions, witness errors, and forensic errors were among the least prevalent factors. The study’s limitations are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research. Even though women represent a much smaller segment of the incarcerated population in the United States, their numbers increased almost sixfold from 1980 through 2011. More than 1 million women are currently in jail or prison, on probation, or on parole. However, their false convictions are less likely than those of men to be reviewed by the various innocence projects because women are less likely than men to be incarcerated for crimes in which DNA evidence is present. Women are also more likely to be wrongfully convicted since their convictions are more likely to be based only on circumstantial evidence or crimes that never happened.

Exploring how death penalty attitudes differ by gender and country has theoretical and practical ramifications for abolitionists, supporters, politicians, and social scientists, as well as presenting a more comprehensive picture of worldwide capital punishment views. Although there is an increasing trend to explore criminal justice issues from an international viewpoint, little research has looked into whether there is a gender gap in non-Western citizens’ perspectives on capital punishment. The purpose of this exploratory study was to see if there are gender disparities in death sentence attitudes among college students in the Republic of India (henceforth, India) and the United States of America, as well as if attitudes differ between the two countries (Lambert et al., 2018). The gender gap is a term used in the literature to describe differences in viewpoints and support for various social concerns.

Women in the United States, for example, are more likely to support liberal candidates, social programs, minorities’ civil rights, and progressive social concerns (Lambert et al., 2018). In general, American women prefer a more rehabilitative approach to dealing with criminals, whereas American males favor punitive sanctions. Due to such cases, it may seem that Patricia was wrongly sentenced, but the evidence and witnesses are enough to say that she is the one who deserves her punishment. Some racial inequalities emerge when the false convictions of Black women in this inquiry are compared to the wrongful convictions of White women in other investigations. While drug offenses and murder/manslaughter were the two most common offenses for Black women in this study, other studies have found that murder/manslaughter and child abuse top the list for White women. When it comes to child abuse, racial differences are especially telling. Only two incidents of Black women being wrongfully convicted of child abuse were discovered throughout this research. This is why the possibility that Patricia was wrongly sentences is mere.

In Lambert et al. (2018), child abuse cases accounted for more than 20% of wrongful convictions involving White women, whereas in Ruesink and Free’s analysis, child abuse cases accounted for 58 percent of incorrect convictions involving White women (Lambert et al., 2018). The impact of victim race in sentencing outcomes has been continuously shown in research on the role of race in criminal justice processing. Rape, sexual assault, and murder investigations show that perpetrators who target Whites are more likely to face harsher penalties than those who target Blacks. Because the victim’s and alleged perpetrator’s races are frequently the same in child abuse cases, this gap raises an intriguing question: Do racial inequalities in child abuse cases indicate a legal system that places a higher value on White children? If this is the case, it may explain why White women are more likely to be convicted of wrongful child abuse.

The impact of local media on sentence in wrongful conviction cases is a topic that is rarely examined in this type of research. This research identified instances when journalistic coverage appeared to be skewed toward conviction. The participation of the media in emotionally charged situations such as child abuse and murder involving intimates has the potential to affect court actors’ and jurors’ hasty decisions. It is difficult to say how much of this leads to erroneous convictions. The context in which wrongful convictions occur may be better clarified and analyzed using this approach because the researcher should be more familiar with the circumstances surrounding local cases.


D. Free, Jr, M., & Ruesink, M. (2018). Flawed justice: A study of wrongly convicted African American women. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 16(4), 333-347.

Lambert, E. G., Baker, D. N., Elechi, O. O., Jiang, S., Khondaker, M. I., Pasupuleti, S., & Hogan, N. L. (2018). Gender and cultural differences on death penalty support and views among Indian and US college students. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 16(4), 254-271.

Patricia Blackmon Women On Death Row. (n.d.). Mycrimelibrary. Web.

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DemoEssays. "Death Penalty and Ethnicity in Criminal Justice." January 5, 2023.