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UAlbany’s National Death Penalty Archive Adds Papers of Race-and-the-Law Research Pioneer David C. Baldus

Race & Death Penalty Expert Panel April 20th, 3:30 p.m., Science Library

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 16, 2012) - The working papers of the late David Baldus, a legal pioneer on racial equality and the death penalty, will become part of the permanent collection of UAlbany’s National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA), a national repository of archival material devoted solely to the death penalty. Baldus’s work was at the center of a 5-4 1987 Supreme Court decision, which upheld Georgia's death penalty law regarding race-of-victim differences in capital charging and sentencing decisions. The papers will be donated at a public event featuring a panel of death penalty experts on Friday, April 20 at 3:30 p.m. in the Standish Room at the University’s Science Library.
David Baldus, a pioneer in research on race and death penalty

Papers of David Baldus, whose work was the center of a 1987 Supreme Court decision, will be added to the permanent collection of UAlbany's National Death Penalty Archive.

The panel discussion will feature guests Catherine Grosso, associate professor, Michigan State College of Law; Alice Green, founder, The Center for Law and Justice; David Kaczynski, executive director, New Yorkers For Alternatives to the Death Penalty and James Acker, Professor, UAlbany School of Criminal Justice.

"David Baldus's work has produced sobering evidence of the wide gap between how the laws are written and how they have been applied in courtrooms throughout the country,” said Acker. “Having his working papers included in the National Death Penalty Archive and made available for inspection by historians, researchers, and the public will enrich our collection immeasurably and ensure that Professor Baldus's meticulous and important work will be preserved for posterity."

Prior to the Court’s decision, Baldus, a long-time University of Iowa College of Law professor, and two colleagues examined more than 2,000 murders in Georgia, controlling for some 230 variables. The study found that people convicted for killing white victims were four times as likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted for killing black victims in otherwise similar cases. Therefore, according to the study, a death sentence often hinged not on legally relevant factors but rather on murder victims’ race and, to a lesser extent, the race of the defendant.

Baldus, who died last year, wrote two books, “Statistical Proof of Discrimination” and “Equal Justice and the Death Penalty,” as well as numerous scholarly articles.

The NDPA was initiated by UAlbany's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) as part of its mission to collect, archive, and make available historical and other material on the death penalty in America.

The University at Albany Library's M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is collaborating with CPRI to maintain and grow the National Death Penalty Archive.

UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice announced the establishment of NDPA, a national repository of archival material devoted solely to the death penalty, in August 2005. The National Death Penalty Archive was initiated by the school's Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) to collect archival materials documenting the important history of capital punishment, and to provide resources for historical scholarship. The collection of historical materials will be an unrivaled resource for scholars, students, and the public interested in the history of capital punishment in America, and in the legal and political battles engendered by the sanction. In addition to housing the records and documents of leading figures in scholarship, and legal and community organizations concerning capital punishment, the archive includes oral history interviews featuring prominent activists and professionals involved in death penalty abolition efforts and related work.

The Capital Punishment Research Initiative, part of the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, was founded in the late 1990s with three primary goals: (1) to build and maintain a national archive for historical documents and data on the death penalty; (2) to plan and conduct basic and policy related research on capital punishment; and (3) to encourage scholarship, conduct graduate and undergraduate training, and disseminate scientifically grounded knowledge about the ultimate penal sanction.

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