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April 20, 2014

Independent Lens: Race to Execution - an early look

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 7th 2007 2:01PM

Robert TarverThe death penalty, not unlike abortion rights, is a polarizing topic, and advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate have strong feelings about a state's right to end the life of a human being.

In "Race to Execution," which airs on PBS' Independent Lens on March 27 at 10:00 p.m., the question as to whether race plays a role in death penalty convictions is made the center focus. One story deals with Madison Hobley, a Chicago man sentenced to death for allegedly setting a fire that killed seven people, including his wife and young child. The other story deals with Robert Tarver, accused of shooting a white general store owner in Alabama. In the end, one man is executed and the other is exonerated.

The documentary takes the stance that a person's race, and the overall race of the jury, does play a significant role in whether or not a person is sentenced to death. However, the two people behind the film, Rachel Lyon and Jim Lopes, are on both sides of the debate (Lopes supports the death penalty and Lyon does not). No single work can serve as the ultimate Truth on the death penalty, but "Race to Execution" does offer one angle that's worth considering for anyone interested in educating themselves about this issue, no matter what their belief happens to be.

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