Crossroads of Religion and Politics Discussion with Melynda Price.
Curing systemic inequalities in the criminal justice system is the unfinished business of the Civil Rights movement. No part of that system highlights this truth more than the current implementation of the death penalty. At the Cross tells a story of the relationship between the death penalty and race in American politics that complicates the common belief that individual African Americans, especially poor African Americans, are more subject to the death penalty in criminal cases. The current death penalty regime operates quite differently than it did in the past. The findings of this research demonstrate the racial inequity in the meting out of death sentences has legal and political externalities that move beyond individual defendants to larger numbers of African Americans.
At the Cross looks at the meaning of the death penalty to and for African Americans by using various sites of analysis. Price shows the connection between criminal justice policies like the death penalty and the political and legal rights of African Americans who are tangentially connected to the criminal justice system through familial and social networks. Drawing on black politics, legal and political theory and narrative analysis, Price utilizes a mixed-method approach that incorporates analysis of media reports, capital jury selection and survey data, as well as original focus group data. As the rates of incarceration trend upward, Black politics scholars have focused on the impact of incarceration on the voting strength of the black community. Local, and even regional, narratives of African American politics and the death penalty expose the fractures in American democracy that foment perceptions of exclusion among blacks.
Melynda Price is the Robert E. Harding, Jr. Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law and the Director of African American and Africana Studies program. This year she is a Visiting Research Scholar in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Her research focuses on race and citizenship, the politics of punishment and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and at its borders. She is the author of At the Cross: Race, Religion and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty (2015). She has published in the Iowa Law Review, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law and other legal journals as well as the New York Times, Tidal Basin Review and Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture. She also blogs at ivorytowerinterloper.blogspot.com. Professor Price has a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Michigan. She also earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and studied Physics as an undergraduate at Prairie View A&M University. At Princeton she will pursue a project that analyzes how we understand activism among black mothers of murdered children.
This Crossroads of Religion and Politics Discussion Series is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Attendance is limited to Princeton University students, fellows, and faculty, with preference given to CSR and WWS affiliates. Lunch will be provided; bring your own water bottle. Please rsvp to Jenny Legath by Friday, March 10.