It is fairly obvious that a punishment is unjust if it falls more heavily on one racial group than another. It is less clear what ought to be done in such situations. Many philosophers advocate for “leveling down,” i.e., imposing lesser penalties on the marginalized group for a given crime (especially in capital contexts) to level things out. But some argue that this response is unmotivated, and that “leveling up” is an equally legitimate strategy. I always thought this debate was more or less academic, but a judge recently overruled a jury, sentencing a white man to death just so that he could not be accused of sentencing only black men to death.
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