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Some good folks at Duke Law School are hosting the inaugural “North Carolina Law and Policy Symposium” tomorrow and Friday.

The event is entitled: “Realizing Criminal Justice Reform Together.” The symposium focuses on pressing criminal justice topics such as preventing and rectifying wrongful convictions, reintegration and the pardons system, the “school-to prison pipeline,” post-conviction reforms, and effective legislative advocacy techniques.  Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP will deliver the keynote address on Friday at 12:30.

The event commences Thursday evening and runs through Friday afternoon. It’s free and open to the public but an RSVP is appreciated. 

Click here for more information. Even if you can only be there for a session or two, it looks like a great event.  

 

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The state Supreme Court issued an opinion today on a rather complex and obscure matter related to the process used in the adoption of the state’s execution “protocol.” The decision serves to highlight once again the fact that the death penalty has not been carried out in the state in more than five years.

This got me thinking: If death penalty proponents like state Rep. Paul Stam are right, this should have produced a spike in crime and killings given the supposed deterrent effect of executions.

Then I looked at the statistics. Read More

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Maybe a lot of you are already aware of this remarkable story, but I confess that I just found about it today.

Florida prosecutors are trying 12 year-old Christian Fernandez as an adult for the murder of his two year-old brother. I’ll say that again: prosecutors are trying a 12 year-old — a boy born in1999 — as an adult. The boy, who was himself born to a 12 year-old mother and has endured a dreadful life of abuse, faces life in prison. Read More

 

Send in the mirrors.  Obviously there’s a shortage, judging by the lawmakers and district attorneys who acknowledge racial bias in the justice system in neighboring counties, but never in theirs.

The North Carolina Racial Justice Act, which simply allows defendants in capital trials to present another piece of evidence that race was a significant factor in their case, is up for a concurrence vote in the Senate today.  

Senators are being asked to restore the bill’s original intent of securing fairness in the ultimate punishment. It strips out amendments inserted by Senators eager for the state to resume executions, and whom still voted against the bill even after their amendments were added. 

The Racial Justice Act has been subjected to a cruel, years-long political game among legislators wary that their votes might make them vulnerable in an election year.  But more than most questions put before our lawmakers, this bill is about life and death judgments. Lawmakers have long ignored racial prejudices and assumptions that are typically unspoken and infinitely present in capital sentencing.

In the last year, three innocent black men were released from death row. It’s bad enough that those men served a combined 41 years in prison on death row, but they would have been executed without the state’s court-imposed moratorium on the death penalty.

Today blacks make up 20 percent of the state’s population but 60 percent of those on death row.

It’ll take Senators willing to put away the politics for a day, and who have the conviction to take a hard look in the mirror before voting, to push percentages like that into the history of another era.

 

 

For more information on the NC Racial Justice Act – Senate Bill 461, please visit www.ncmoratorium.org.

NC Racial Justice Act Video 

To contact a Senator to urge support for the bill, link to

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1576/t/6273/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27713

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Carolina Justice Policy Center is a partner group of the NC Coalition for a Moratorium on Executions.

Death Row Exonerees Levon 'Bo' Jones, Jonathon Hoffman, Glen Edward Chapman & Prison Exoneree Darryl Hunt

Death Row Exonerees