House Lawmakers Tentatively Pass Racial Justice Act Repeal

Jun 4, 2013

Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

House lawmakers have tentatively passed a bill that would repeal the Racial Justice Act, a landmark law that allows death row prisoners to appeal their sentences on the basis of racial bias.

Republican Representative Sarah Stevens told her colleagues that there should be better ways to eliminate racism from juries and trials.

"If there are specific areas of the state where we are having this kind of problem, we need to focus on tackling the problem, not letting murderers get off," Stevens said. "We either have the actual vote and speech on doing away with the death penalty, or we don't. But this is not the way to go about it."

But opponents of the bill say the Racial Justice Act is necessary to combat bias in juries and trials across the state. They say studies show that racism in capital cases remains a serious problem.

Lawmakers will likely vote on the bill again tomorrow.