NC Legislators Moving to Wipe Out State’s Racial Justice Act


The North Carolina legislature took another step toward wiping out a signature law that allows convicted killers to be spared the death penalty if they can show court decisions tainted by racial bias, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The 77-40 vote in the state House was largely along party lines, with one Democrat joining all Republicans to repeal the law called the Racial Justice Act. The law's supporters read names of men wrongly convicted of murder, while its detractors recited names of murder victims. The 2009 law allowed people sentenced to death to use statistical evidence to show that race played a significant part in their trial or in the prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty. Successful challengers have death sentences commuted to life in prison. Last year, the legislature weakened the law by narrowing the use of statistics. Racial Justice Act supporters said it has exposed racial bias, and so far, has led to findings that prosecutors improperly prevented African-Americans from serving on juries. The bill debated yesterday would invalidate more than 140 claims that have not been heard in court.

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