Senate Passes Important Reforms to Racial Justice Act
The North Carolina Senate on Wednesday approved reforms to the Racial Justice Act, a law allowing convicted murderers and child rapists on death row to appeal their sentences using statistics that allegedly show racial bias.
In order to prevent convicted criminals from abusing the overbroad Racial Justice Act, the bill clarifies the types of evidence that can be used in determining whether race was a significant factor in seeking the death sentence. Those changes include:
· Defining the relevant time period considered to 10 years prior to the offense and two years after the sentence;
· Limiting the use of statistical evidence to the county or prosecutorial district where the sentence was imposed;
· Providing that statistical evidence alone is insufficient to establish that race played a significant factor in the defendant’s case.
“The Racial Justice Act is an ill-conceived, overbroad law that has done nothing but serve as a backdoor attempt to stop capital punishment in North Carolina,” said Sen. Phil Berger (R-NC). “Although I would prefer to see the Racial Justice Act erased from the books entirely, the sensible reforms included in this bill will preserve justice for more than 100 North Carolina families whose loved ones’ lives were brutally taken.”Tweet