Please join us for a timely, stimulating, and informative panel discussion on racism and the death penalty in America, hosted by Stephen Rohde '69 LAW. In the midst of an urgent national conversation about racism in America, the Department of Justice announced that on July 13, federal executions will resume for the first time in seventeen years. Study after study reveal shocking racial disparities in the capital punishment system from arrests and prosecutions to jury selection and convictions.With only 13% of the population, African Americans made up 35% of the defendants sentenced to death last year. Over 57% of the inmates on the death rows in the United States are people of color. The last 22 defendants sentenced to death in Los Angeles County were all people of color. Last year, in a 7-2 majority opinion reversing a death sentence from Mississippi, Justice Brett Kavanaugh called the prosecutor’s jury selection a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals.”
Stephen Rohde is a constitutional scholar, lecturer, writer, political activist and retired civil rights lawyer. He represented a California death row inmate in a successful federal habeas corpus proceeding and was part of the Clemency Team for Stanley Tookie Williams. He has served on the Board of Directors of Death Penalty Focus for over 25 years and was Chair of the Board for several years.
Paula Mitchell is the Legal Director of Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent (LPI) and Supervising Attorney for Loyola’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic. She represents individuals with claims of actual innocence who are imprisoned in California state prisons.
In Louisiana in 1974, at the age of 16, Gary Tyler was sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. He was arrested for allegedly shooting a white boy during racially-charged protests over school integration in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. Convicted and sentenced to die by an all-white jury, he was, at the time, the youngest person on death row in the United States, and spent eight years in solitary confinement. Gary’s conviction was overturned and he was released on April 29, 2016, after serving almost 42 years in prison.