DURHAM - The NC House of Representatives will consider another attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act later today. The NC NAACP is issuing five critical reasons to vote against the bill, which can be found below. They are also calling on all branches and HKonJ partners to flood legislators with calls and emails immediately today encouraging them to reject Senate Bill 416, with the five critical reasons for doing so.
Five Reasons Legislators Should Reject New Efforts to Repeal the Racial Justice Act
1) The Racial Justice Act was passed with the support of proponents and opponents of the death penalty. All agreed that racial bias has no place in the application of the ultimate punishment of death.
2) Support for the Racial Justice Act is not an endorsement of violence or a sign that anyone is "soft on crime." Criminal justice enforcement is only strengthened when the system confronts
racial bias directly and attempts to rid it from its practices.
3) Two Superior Court judges in North Carolina examined the law and evidence. The first found the RJA constitutional. And the second, the Cumberland County Superior Court, examined the comprehensive evidence presented to it by both sides for several months and found that race played a significant role in the death sentence of the first RJA petitioner, Marcus Robinson, and changed his death sentence to life in prison without parole. The Court found what virtually every researcher who has studied the death penalty process has shown: racism infects much of
this system and its ultimate punishment--the death penalty.
4) We live in a state where seven men have been exonerated from death row, who would have been murdered by the state if the system had only worked faster. Five are black, one is Latino and one is white. ALL were charged with the murders of white victims.
5) All the evidence shows that the death penalty system is flawed with racial bias. It is bizarre and unthinkable that legislators are striving to maintain the status quo of racism in the application of the death penalty and steal a tool from the courts to address this abomination.
Statement by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II on Today's Attempt to Repeal the RJA
Our current leadership engages in public policy rooted in regressive ideology that ignores
both facts and truth. They deny what research says, what the courts have said, and what fundamental fairness and justice says. They push forward their race-baiting agenda anyway. Rather than face the racial disparity evident in application of the death penalty they instead spin the issue to suggest that to be for RJA as it stands is to be soft on crime and represents an unwillingness to punish criminals, even when they know this is both unfounded and untrue. Proponents and opponents of the death penalty have supported RJA in its current form. Family members of murdered victims have supported RJA in its current form.
For this to be happening in a southern General Assembly, where there is such a deep history
and continuing reality of racialized arrests and convictions, is both deeply regressive and troubling. Attempts to rewrite the law and lessen its ability to uncover the truth about racially-biased convictions is a fundamental violation of the notion that justice must be blind and fair, not biased
and unbalanced. Murder of any human being is a painful tragedy that tears a breach in the soul and spirit of our common humanity. As a pastor I've had to walk, pray and cry with families through the tragedy of a murder of a loved one. But I also learned from these same families that promoting a death penalty system that is flawed with racial and class bias is also tragic and does not soothe their pain or further the cause of justice.
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