Book Review: Killing with prejudice: Institutionalized racism in American capital punishment

AuthorNick Petersen,Ahzin Bahraini
Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
original sources, quantitative and qualitative studies, photos, advertisements, and political cartoons.
Brown and Barganier take what for many is an abstract discussion of racism and its compounding
historical consequences and clearly ground it in specic laws, policies, and practices. They build
an understanding of institutional racism through examples such as zoning restrictions that created
racial segregation, loan practices that kept Blacks from purchasing homes, public housing that iso-
lated the poor, and a war on drugs that disproportionately incarcerated minority users. Furthermore,
these concrete examples show how many well-meaning practices that system reformers continue to
attempt are derailed or fall short of their promises.
The book concludes with four chapters on the criminal justice system including the role that colo-
nialism and coloniality play on policing, the court system, corrections, and the death penalty. By pro-
viding the historical context in previous chapters, modern debates about the role of race and the
criminal justice system are moved from discussions of the individual to the structural role of the crim-
inal justice system in perpetuating inequality. Practices such as racial proling, all White juries, bail
requirements, drug policy, surveillance, and mass incarceration are framed by coloniality.
Geographies of Injustice once seen cannot be ignored, and there is an implied challenge in this
book for readers to critically explore history, stereotypes, policies, practices, institutions, and laws
that continue to perpetuate systemic inequality. Social problems in our society are too often
addressed as crime problems, and an ever looming question in this book is why are police placed
on the front lines of social problems such as poverty and the structural effects of invidious racial dis-
crimination and provided primarily the tools of force and violenceto effect change(p. 248)? As
Brown and Bargainer argue, this context shapes the relationship between the police and minority
communities and between Black individuals and ofcers.
Admittedly, this book focuses on the systemic violence perpetuated against Black and Brown
human beings by coloniality, with the criminal justice system playing a leading role, and with this
focus, there are bound to be areas that receive less attention. Most notably, the place of trauma, spe-
cically intergenerational trauma, and minority victimization by crime in constructing geographies of
injustice is glossed over. By clearly explaining the connection between our past and present state, this
book leaves us all with a moral imperative to address structural inequalities but few recommendations
on where to start. I recommend Race and Crime: Geographies of Injustice as essential for all crim-
inology, sociology, criminal justice, law students, and scholars who strive to understand the role of
the criminal justice system in perpetuating racial inequality in our society.
Sarah Britto
Maratea, R. J. (2019). Killing with prejudice: Institutionalized racism in American capital punishment. New York: NYU
Press. 233 pp. $25, ISBN-13: 978-1479888603.
Reviewed by: Nick Petersen and Ahzin Bahraini, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016819884112
Marateas book Killing With Prejudice uses the seminal capital case of McCleskey v. Kemp (1987)
involving a Black defendant who was sentenced to death for killing a White police ofcer to high-
light broader issues of systemic racism plaguing the American death penalty system. While a great
deal has been written about the precedential implications of McCleskeys case, much less is known
532 Criminal Justice Review 47(4)

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