Barkan featured in New York Times Letters to the Editor
New York Times
To the Editor:
Re “Democratic Candidates Rethink the Death Penalty, and Its Politics” (news article, April 9):
Our political parties should not be overly swayed by public opinion on the death penalty. Many studies conclude that prejudice against blacks is a strong predictor of whites’ support for capital punishment. If so many whites were not racially prejudiced, white support for the death penalty would be much lower, and so would public support more generally.
In a country that professes “liberty and justice for all,” political leaders should keep this context in mind when they consider public opinion in formulating their stance on capital punishment.
Steven E. Barkan
The writer, a professor of sociology at the University of Maine, is the author of “Race, Crime and Justice: The Continuing American Dilemma.”