State Senate Votes To Repeal Racial Justice Act

Apr 3, 2013

State senators have voted to repeal a historic law passed in 2009 that allows death row inmates to use statistical evidence of racial bias to challenge their sentences.

The State Senate chamber
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Senate Bill 306 requires the state Attorney General to keep lawmakers updated on the status of death row appeals. It's sponsored by Republican Senator Thom Goolsby of Wilmington.

"It also eliminates the Racial Justice Act, which I would contend to you is nothing but an end run around on capital punishment in North Carolina. The bill repeals RJA while reaffirming the various multiple avenues of appeal available to ensure a fair hearing, in any cases of race discrimination, claims and capital cases," says Goolsby.

The measure passed 33 to 14 along party lines. Democratic lawmakers protested the bill, saying the Racial Justice Act helps prevent death row inmates who are innocent from being sentenced to death.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation limiting the use of statistical evidence under the act. The bill now goes to the House.