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Though it’s not so clear to me that the GOP could have simply walked away and stayed away as they threatened to do (and as the editorial accepts as a given) a piece in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal has a generally accurate take on some key outcomes of the recently adjourned General Assembly:

“This supplemental budget will mean further cuts to our public schools, the schools that educate the vast majority of North Carolina children. The legislature did not add back enough state money to offset lost federal stimulus money that had been paying thousands of teachers.

Class sizes will grow. There will be fewer course offerings. Teachers will be laid off.

But, had the veto been sustained, Read More

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If you can, please take a few minutes out of your day today to join with caring and thoughtful people to help hold the out-of-control General Assembly accountable at a “Rein them in Rally.” 

When: Today — Monday, April 23 at 11:00 A.M.

Where: In front of the General Assembly building on Jones Street in Raleigh.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit the rally website. See you there!

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The Center for Public Integrity, in collaboration with Global Integrity and Public Radio International, just released an eye-opening “State Integrity Investigation” that assesses all states’ transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms. The data-driven ranking system gave five states a B grade; 19 states received a C; 18 states received a D; and eight states earned an F. North Carolina received a C- and is a featured example in the investigation – conflicts of interest in the billboard law as well as the lack of sanctions for lobbyists who fail to register. Read More

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State legislation passed this year requires the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to study land-based hydraulic fracturing for drilling oil and gas. Fracking, as the method is commonly known, is currently illegal in North Carolina. Our legislators are spending $100,000 on the study, many of whom are intent on lifting the ban. Public comments are now being taken by DENR on a draft outline for the study and the first of two mandated public hearings was held last night in Sanford.

Read More

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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