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# Hereby Sentence

## Is there racial bias in who gets the death penalty?

Is there evidence of racial bias in death penalty sentencing? Many U.S. states allow capital punishment for certain crimes. Some people argue that an “eye for an eye” is a fair punishment, while others believe the death penalty is unfairly imposed.

In this lesson, students analyze almost thirty years’ worth of data summarized in n-way frequency tables and discuss whether they see evidence of racial bias in who receives the death penalty and who doesn’t.

### REAL WORLD TAKEAWAYS

• Specific sets of data on the race of defendants receiving the death penalty can be interpreted to draw opposite conclusions regarding the prevalence of racial bias in sentencing.
• The race of the victim has been shown to impact the likelihood of receiving the death penalty: In Louisiana, murderers of white victims have received the death penalty three times more frequently than have murderers of black victims.

### MATH OBJECTIVES

• Interpret two-way frequency tables summarizing categorical data
• Interpret relative frequencies – including joint and conditional frequencies – in the context of the data

Appropriate most times as students are developing conceptual understanding.
Algebra 1
One-Variable Statistics
Algebra 1
One-Variable Statistics
Content Standards S.ID.5 Summarize categorical data for two categories in two-way frequency tables. Interpret relative frequencies in the context of the data (including joint, marginal, and conditional relative frequencies). Recognize possible associations and trends in the data. S.CP.4 Construct and interpret two-way frequency tables of data when two categories are associated with each object being classified. Use the two-way table as a sample space to decide if events are independent and to approximate conditional probabilities. For example, collect data from a random sample of students in your school on their favorite subject among math, science, and English. Estimate the probability that a randomly selected student from your school will favor science given that the student is in tenth grade. Do the same for other subjects and compare the results. S.CP.5 Recognize and explain the concepts of conditional probability and independence in everyday language and everyday situations. For example, compare the chance of having lung cancer if you are a smoker with the chance of being a smoker if you have lung cancer.
Mathematical Practices MP.3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.