The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the death sentence today of Keith Tharpe, a black man who was on death row for over 25 years despite the fact that one of his white jurors later recounted the case using slurs when referring to black people and said that “because a black person doesn’t have a soul, giving one the death penalty was no big deal.” Tharpe was scheduled to be executed this evening.
Affidavits signed by the former juror and Tharpe’s legal team attesting to the fact that juror racism influenced his trial were deemed inadmissible by state courts.
“One of the many ways that the death penalty system is irrevocably broken is the discriminatory way it is applied,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer with Amnesty International USA. “Keith Tharpe’s case is a chilling example of how callous the state can be in matters of life and death. While the Supreme Court granted a temporary reprieve to Keith Tharpe, this cannot be allowed to happen again. Capital punishment is cruel and inhuman and should be left in the dustbin of history once and for all.”