Racial and Legal Competency Issues inherent in the administration of the Death Penalty: A Case for North Carolina

Dianne A Williams
Human Services, Capella University
February, 2005
Dianne Williams holds an MBA and a PhD and has done additional continuing education coursework at Harvards Kennedy School of Government. She is a Certified Criminal Justice Specialist and a Certified Sentence Mitigation Specialist with the National Association of Forensic Counselors and a Certified Social & Behavioral Research Investigator. She is a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, American Society of Criminologists, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Her teaching engagements include North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine). She specializes in the Race and Crime, Media and Crime and Juvenile Justice as well as Police and Prison Reform.


Despite efforts to devise policies and procedures to support the fair and consistent application of the death penalty in the United States, the process remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination and error. This study will evaluate the administration of Americas Death Penalty, through a quantitative analysis of offenders sentenced to death in North Carolinas between January 1, 1993 through December 31, 1997, to determine whether race and legal-competency factors have any impact on a jurys sentencing decision. Specifically, the question of the quality of legal representation will be analyzed as will the impact of the race of the offender and the race of the victim.