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(p. 57) Race and Rape Prosecution in US History 

(p. 57) Race and Rape Prosecution in US History
(p. 57) Race and Rape Prosecution in US History

Matthew Barry Johnson

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date: 03 December 2020

This chapter examines the current disproportion of Black defendants wrongly convicted of sexual assault through a historical lens. It notes the US history of statutorily separate sexual assault penalties based on race of the defendant and victim. Throughout US history the legal definition and societal response to rape (and rape allegations) have been influenced by considerations of race. These considerations were consistently made to the detriment of Black defendants charged with rape. The chapter reviews how race, rape law, and prosecution have been manifested in different historical eras (the period of race-based enslavement, the period of Jim Crow segregation, and the current post–civil rights period) and the mechanisms of racial bias against Black defendants in the post–civil rights era.

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