Governor vetoes repeal of Racial Justice Act

Gov. Bev Perdue announced Wednesday that she would veto Senate Bill 9, which would repeal most of the Racial Justice Act.

In a statement released by her office, Perdue acknowledged her support for the death penalty, but said racial prejudice should not play a part in the process. Here’s more from her statement:

“I am vetoing Senate Bill 9 for the same reason that I signed the Racial Justice Act two years ago: it is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina.”

“Finally, it is important to be clear that the Racial Justice Act does not allow anyone to be released from prison or seek parole. Both my own legal counsel and legal experts from across the State have assured me that even if an inmate succeeds on a claim under the Racial Justice Act, his sole remedy is life in prison without the possibility of parole — and even that would only occur if a judge first finds that racial discrimination played a significant role in the application of the death penalty.”

The governor must now call legislators back into session, giving them the opportunity to vote on a potential override. No date has been set for such a session, but it would likely occur after the first of the year.

Rep. Joe Hackney praised Perdue for “taking a strong stand for justice with her veto.”

House Speaker Thom Tillis said he was “disappointed” by the decision:

“By vetoing this bill, the Governor has turned her back on the families of victims across this state and a vast majority of prosecutors who need every available resource to crack down on violent criminals.”

4 Comments

  1. Frances Jenkins

    December 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Explain to me how this is justice. A white man rapes a white woman and shots her sister. The sister lives. He is white, jury is white, judge is white, DA is white.The rape was so brutal I cannot repeat the details. He has filed an appeal under the Racial Justice Act. If ever a person deserved to sit on a burnt stump in hell, this man does. Please Bev, enlighten this family how this is justice.

  2. gregflynn

    December 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

    A purpose of the review is to see if the claim is valid. The filing of an appeal is not itself a guarantee of getting off death row. It’s the start of a process to weed out the invalid claims of racial bias.

    For the record this hypothetical describes a rape and a shooting but no death. However, it still serves to highlight the fact that it generally takes more aggravating factors for a white man to be sent to death row than for a black man.

    There is hardly a murder trial that does not present statistics and probability in some form in evidence. Even DNA evidence is framed in terms of match probability, though to a higher degree of certainty than circumstantial evidence.

    Punishment should match the crime to a similar degree of certainty.

  3. Frances Jenkins

    December 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    The rape victim died from head trama.

  4. gregflynn

    December 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    It serves to highlight the fact that it generally takes more aggravating factors for a white man to be sent to death row than for a black man.