Saturday, March 12, 2016

Military executions and race

Daily Beast has this post by Stephen Harding with an attention-getting headline that asks "Were these U.S. soldiers executed because of their race?" Excerpts:
Of the U.S. servicemen put to death for crimes committed during [World War II], 79 percent were black. While their crimes were heinous, were they given harsher sentences?
* * * 
As Professor J. Robert Lilly of Northern Kentucky University has pointed out in his pioneering research into the administration of military justice in World War II, while the roughly 1 million African-American men who served in the nation’s armed services constituted less than 10 percent of the total force, they made up a much larger percentage of those given harsh sentences for serious offenses. Blacks were far more likely to be put to death for murder or rape than their white counterparts—in the European Theater 25 African-American men were executed for murder versus 4 whites; 22 blacks and 6 whites were put to death for rape; and 8 of the 12 killed for rape and murder were men of color. These percentages are roughly reflected in the numbers executed at Shepton Mallet.
The racial breakdown of U.S. military capital cases since World War II has continued to be a subject of concern.

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