OCE Event– “Race, Death and Justice: Capital Sentencing in Washington State, 1981–2014”

September 20, 2021 Add to Calendar

7–8:30 p.m.


Gabriela Gamiz


Heather Evans was part of the research team, led by Katherine Beckett (University of Washington), responsible for a groundbreaking published study that examined the role of race in capital sentencing in Washington State. Their work contributed to the state Supreme Court’s decision to abolish capital punishment in Washington in 2018.

Their findings indicated that special sentencing proceedings between 1981 and 2014 involving Black defendants were between 3.5 and 4.6 times as likely to result in a death sentence as proceedings involving non-Black defendants after the impact of the other variables included in the model were taken into account. Moreover, the impact of defendant race (i.e., Blackness) was greater than the impact of three additional aggravating circumstances. The study therefore showed clear evidence that the race of the defendant has had a powerful and substantial impact on capital sentencing outcomes in Washington State.

Zoom Webinar ID: 837 8458 5222

About the speaker

Heather D. Evans is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Sociology; Disability Studies Program; and the Law, Societies & Justice Department at the University of Washington. She has conducted both statistical analyses and ethnographic fieldwork. Her current work examines “invisible disability,” focusing on disclosure and identity management among people with physical, mental and sensory differences that are not readily apparent. She is also committed to community based research and does consulting work for local organizations, primarily focusing on disparities within the criminal justice system. Broadly, she is interested in processes of social marginalization and identifying ways to expand access to opportunity structures through institutional change.


Live closed captioning will be available for this event. A recording of the talk can be requested by emailing justicetalks-l@g.hmc.edu. This talk is the first in a series about the U.S. justice system, race and equity, sponsored by HMC’s Office of Community Engagement.