Justice 2060093 1920
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.

Students will

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

Before you begin

This is a serious topic for a mature audience. Be prepared to steer the conversation to the question at hand -- "Is there evidence of racial bias in death penalty cases?" -- rather than to broadly debate the existence of the death penalty.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices