Urbina’s study proposes a new theory of death penalty sentencing that seeks to explain how, when, and why racial and ethnic minority defendants are more likely to experience differential treatment. Urbina reviews historical relationships between African Americans, Caucasians, and Latinos/Hispanics, proposes the four-threat theory of death sentence outcomes; tests for racial and ethnic effects, and examines the death penalty by the totality of its outcomes. Urbina finds support for orthodox theories of punishment, and partial support for the four-threat theory. This theory suggests that racial and ethnic minorities are not treated the same by the criminal justice system. He also finds that discrimination is not a phenomenon of the past or restricted to commutations and executions; the death penalty must be analyzed by the totality of its outcomes.
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