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Thursday, January 27, 2011

North Carolina seeks to restarts its death penalty process

Historically, North Carolina has been a national leader in death sentences, the size of its death row, and the number of executions per year. We're ranked in the top 10 in those categories for years.

This came toa screeching halt in 2006 when the state carried out its last execution. For a varieity of reasons -- most notably problems with the lethal injection process (like finding a doctor willing to do it!), the state halted executions.

Then came the historic Racial Justice Act, passed in August 2009 (Governor Perdue signing it to the left). According to a recent article: "The law allows death row defendants to appeal their sentences on grounds of racial discrimination. If defendants can show statistics proving that race played a role in their sentencing or in a prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty, they would avoid being put to death. The defendants would instead be allowed to serve life sentences without parole ...The legislation has been heralded nationally as a leap for civil rights, notable especially for the South and a state with a history haunted by racial inequity."

North Carolina became only the second state in the nation with such a law, behind only Kentucky. And sure enough, nearly everyone on death row in the state filed a Racial Justice Act claim challenging their death sentence.

Now, the Republicans have taken over the General Assembly and one of their goals is to do away with this law.

Another is to restart executions.

"Although other priorities—balancing the budget and easing unemployment—are expected to take precedence, incoming House Majority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, has said he's pushing to repeal the Racial Justice Act."

I have no doubt they will get their way.

1 comment:

  1. It will be a shame if they repeal the Racial Justice Act. Dont get me wrong, I truly believe that if you are on death row you should defiantly be in prison. However, there has been racial discrimination throughout North Carolina's history. Just today, we saw the statistics of the amount of black males that were executed for rape and burglary. In almost all cases of executions for either rape or burglary they were black males. No white man or woman was put to death for burglary and very few for rape. We cannot escape the past of the South but, we can change the future. I don't believe there is racial prejudice in every case but, if you can prove there was why not be able to live life in prison instead of being executed.