In 1941, in perhaps the earliest and most significant study of its kind, noted University of North Carolina sociologist Guy B. Johnson found that the race of both the victim and the perpetrator of a crime were factors in whether or not the offender was sentenced to death. Johnson found that among 330 murder cases in five North Carolina counties between 1930 and 1940, 32 percent of all black defendants, but only 13 percent of white defendants, received death sentences when the victims were white; moreover, death sentences were imposed in 17.5 percent of all white-victim cases, but only four-tenths of one percent of black-victim cases.
The image shown here is a draft of a graph that was eventually published in Johnson's final report, called "The Negro and Crime" (1941). Guy Johnson's research notes, clippings, correspondence, and other papers from his study are preserved in the Guy Benton Johnson Papers, Collection #3826, in the Southern Historical Collection.(Image from Guy B. Johnson Papers, #3826, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)