North Carolina death penalty opponents have renewed calls to repeal state-supported executions and to commute the sentences of all death row inmates to life in prison, in the wake of a scathing audit of the State Bureau of Investigation, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The audit, released last week, found flawed laboratory work in the cases of death row inmates, including three who had been executed before the revelation came to light. “I was flabbergasted; I could not believe it,” said Ken Rose of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham.
The troubling findings come after new studies from the Michigan State University school of law, the University of Colorado in Boulder and Northeastern University in Boston that show racial disparities in the trials and sentencing of death row inmates. This month, under the fledgling Racial Justice Act, all but a dozen of the 159 inmates on North Carolina’s death row used the historic law to request that their sentences be converted to life without possibility of parole because of racial bias in their trials and sentencing. “None of us can be confident the results in any of these cases are fair or reliable,” Rose said.