Race plays complex role in Florida's 'stand your ground' law

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In 2006, Laurie Lynn Bartlett killed her boyfriend.

She said he was drunk and tried to sexually assault her. She put a knife in him and got 10 years.

A year later, Ernestine Broxsie killed her ex-boyfriend.

She said he “snapped” and began choking her, so she put a bullet in him. She went free.

Two similar cases with one big difference — Bartlett’s victim was white, Broxsie’s was black.

The dramatic contrast in outcomes might not have had anything to do with the victims’ race. But it reflects a reality about Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.

A Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 cases — the first to examine the role of race in “stand your ground” — 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.

“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,’’ said Kareem Jordan, a criminologist at the University of Central Florida. “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.’’

Read the Tampa Bay Times story

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