Governor Pat McCrory signed more than 50 bills into law on Wednesday – among them Senate Bill 306. Senator Thom Goolsby’s bill (Capital Punishment/Amendments) eliminates the use of statistics in weighing whether a death row inmate’s sentence was race-related, effectively repealing what remains of the Racial Justice Act. SB 306 also seeks to end North Carolina’s defacto moratorium on the death penalty.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina criticized the Governor’s decision to sign the bill saying North Carolina has turned its back on evidence of widespread racial bias that must be addressed in our judicial system:
“The Racial Justice Act brought to light undeniable proof that North Carolina’s death penalty system is plagued by racial bias,” said Sarah Preston, Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. “By repealing this law barely four years into its existence, North Carolina’s leadership has willfully turned its back on widespread evidence of systemic racial bias that needs to be addressed – not ignored. Even those who support the death penalty should agree that capital sentences must be handed down impartially and without bias. Sadly, North Carolina’s lawmakers have just undone the best tool our state had to achieve that goal.”
Governor McCrory said in a statement the implementation of the RJA was “seriously flawed”.
But since the RJA was enacted, four death-row inmates have been resentenced to life in prison after a judge found that racial discrimination did indeed play a key role in their sentences.