A Tampa Bay Times analysis of almost 200 cases – the first to examine the role of race in Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” or “Kill at Will” laws – found that people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time.
Questions of race have surrounded Florida’s controversial “Kill at Will” law since George Zimmerman killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February. The law made national headlines because it was part of a system of laws that helped keep Zimmerman out of jail for more than a month.
The study found that regardless of what race the killer was, if the victim was black they were more likely to walk free.
“I don’t think judges or prosecutors or whoever works in the field of criminal justice is consciously saying black life is worth less than that of other ethnicities,” Kareem Jordan, a criminologist at the University of Central Florida told the Times. “But at the end of the day, it could be something that’s subconscious going on if you look at how the media depicts black life.”
Others say “Kill at Will” laws are nothing new and they’re now just allowing ordinary citizens to do something police officers have no done fore years.
“Stand your ground laws shouldn’t be called that,” Victor Rios, a sociologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told Colorlines.com in March. “It’s essentially giving citizens permission to do what cops have been doing forever to black and brown men: shoot first.”