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.”