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Washington and Lee Law Review Online



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We live in a divided society, from gated communities to cell blocks congested with disproportionate numbers of young African-American men. There are rich and poor, privileged and homeless, Democrats and Republicans, wealthy zip codes and stubbornly impoverished ones. There are committed "Black Lives Matter" protesters, and there are those who—invoking "Blue Lives Matter" demonstrate in support of America‘s hardworking police officers. In her new article, "Matters of Strata: Race, Gender, and Class Structures in Capital Cases," George Washington University law professor Phyllis Goldfarb highlights the stratification of our society and offers a compelling critique of America‘s death penalty regime—one, she notes, that is "deeply affected by structures of race, gender, and class." With the number of death sentences and executions declining, Professor Goldfarb‘s article exposes the grim realities—miscarriages of justice, runaway arbitrariness, and persistent discrimination— that may ultimately lead to a judicial declaration that America‘s death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution‘s Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.