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Senate votes to override Perdue on Racial Justice repeal bill (video)

The NC Senate voted 31-19 Wednesday to override Gov. Perdue’s veto of a bill that would effectively repeal the state’s Racial Justice Act.

The 2-year-old law enables inmates on death row to use statistical evidence to try and prove racial discrimination was a factor in their sentencing. If successful, the sentence would be reduced to life without parole.

Durham Senator Floyd McKissick argued in favor of the RJA, telling the chamber that prosecutors seeking to win high-profile cases will intentionally exclude African-Americans from serving on some juries.

Senator Eric Mansfield echoed those remarks noting that in Cumberland County qualified  African-American jurors were struck at almost three times the rate of other qualified jurors.

Surry County Republican Senator Don East countered by sharing the emotional story of his own father’s death, and labeled the Racial Justice Act “an outright blatant attempt to do away with the death penalty.”

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger called the RJA the “wrong tool” to correct cases of bias, pointing out that white defendants were using the law to claim discrimination, even in cases where the victim was white.

On the House side, Senate Bill 9 was sent to the Judiciary I committee.  A new, special committee has also been named that will further study possible changes to the Racial Justice Act.

To hear a portion of the Senate’s debate, click below:

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4 Comments

  1. Frances Jenkins

    January 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Democrats do not have the courage to face the families of the victims. What a sad day for the victims and their families of North Carolina. The flood gate has been opened for release of prisoners and reduced sentences. Shame! Shame!

  2. elainemarie

    January 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

    So sad for the people of North Carolina.

  3. Frances Jenkins

    January 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    You did not show the speech by Senator Don East. Why are you afraid for people to see real victims’ families? The citizens of NC must rise up and overturn the Racial Justice Act. A woman was stabbed 72 times after she was raped and she died before her sister was attacked. This criminal has appealed even though he is white and the jury was white. How is this justice? I think he needs to sit on burnt stump in hell.

  4. las artes

    January 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    The legacy of racism in American society has proved way too ingrained to be cured in a single generation. Indeed, the progress toward integration has created its own new dynamic of racial tension. These tensions have been most visibly expressed in a series of race riots including those in Los Angeles (1965, 1992) and Detroit (1967). The current new wave of immigration in the United States involves people of color, primarily Hispanic. Under current population projections, non-Hispanic whites will constitute a bare majority of the population in 2050. Poverty is endemic to both Hispanics and blacks ; many have zero net worth. The rate of home ownership has not appreciably increased. A disproportionate number receive welfare benefits. Undoubtedly in part due to welfare rules which have historically awarded benefits to single parents, the majority of modern black families are single parent families; the onset of welfare reform may have begun to reverse this trend. In the past two decades, a distinct trend of economic inequality has emerged , creating an “underclass” in which Americans of colored skin predominate. These groups have also been scapegoated by politicians attempting to appeal to white voters during periods of high unemployment. A substantial percentage of African Americans still believe that significant discrimination continues.