Racial Justice in North Carolina: UPDATEAugust 11, 2009
Today, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed the Racial Justice Act into law, making North Carolina only the second state in the country to allow death row prisoners to meaningfully challenge their death sentences if racial bias is evident. (Kentucky is the only other state that has adopted similar provisions.)
As discussed in my previous post, race (particularly race of the victim) has been a major factor in who does and does not get death sentences in North Carolina, and 35 inmates on North Carolina’s death row were put there by all-white juries.
It is good to see a southern state like North Carolina take such a leadership role in directly confronting its legacy of racism and going the extra mile to ensure that its justice system (or at least its capital punishment system) is no longer infected with racial bias. The 33 other death penalty states, both northern and southern, should follow North Carolina and Kentucky’s lead; racial bias in the death penalty is a national problem.