Monday, May 30, 2011

Attempt to Repeal the Racial Justice Act: (What are the issues?)

Although these pieces were written some time ago, the concerns are still the same.
Visit other posts on this topic below on thejourneyofhope blogsite and also visit The People of Faith Against the Death Penalty site

Winston Salem Journal: NC NAACP Statement on HB615

April 6, 2011 by wncdpr

“The extreme right wing that has apparently seized control of the North Carolina Republican Party chose April 4th, a day that lives in infamy in the hearts and minds of all justice-minded Americans, to introduce a law against Racial Justice,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President of the N.C. NAACP. ”On the 43rd anniversary of Dr. King’s murder, which many historians believe not only killed a prophet but set back the cause of racial and economic justice in America, Tea Party forces attacked the nationally-recognized North Carolina Racial Justice Act. Dr. King, his widow, the late Coretta Scott King, and the millions of participants in the movement he led, would have all supported the Racial Justice Act. This extreme right wing race-baiting attack is misguided, mean, and malicious especially when we know the death penalty is too often applied in a way that is a modern day form of racism and classism.”

Much more at the link: NC NAACP State on HB615

Filed under Racial Discrimination in Capital Cases, Racial Justice Act, Raising Awareness of the Death Penalty
The Truth About HB 615, Falsely Named “An Act to Reform the Racial Justice Act”

April 5, 2011 by wncdpr

Our general assembly is attempting to ignore racial disparities in our system of law. KNOW THE FACTS:

* HB 615 does NOT amend the NC Racial Justice Act, it renders it meaningless. HB615 is, in fact, a repeal of the Racial Justice Act.

* Active litigation of Racial Justice Act claims has been conducted in an efficient and cost-effective manner in front of a single Forsyth County Superior Court judge.

* The Forsyth County judge recently ruled that the Racial Justice Act is constitutional.

* The Forsyth County judge made clear in his ruling that both statistics and individual case facts can be considered in each case.

* The RJA is consistent with McCleskey v. Kemp and the Forsyth County judge said that it is consistent. The US Supreme Court held in McCleskey that this is a matter for state legislatures.

* No one will be released under the Racial Justice Act. The law requires those who prove discrimination to serve the rest of their lives in prison without possibility of parole.

* Because inmates rightfully and legally filed motions under a constitutional law, passage of the proposed amendment would end up costing the state more money in legal actions than it would to continue the Racial Justice Act litigation as it is currently proceeding.

* Major research studies recently found significant racial bias in jury selection and with regards to race of victim in North Carolina. (Michigan State University School of Law, University of Colorado at Boulder) A repeal of the Racial Justice Act would mean that North Carolina chose to ignore demonstrated racial discrimination in our criminal justice system.

* For those who are currently on death row, 33 cases had all-white juries and 40 had juries with a single person of color.

* The Racial Justice Act was enacted with support by a majority of North Carolinians: 58% of polled registered voters said defendants should not be executed if a judge finds that racial bias played a role in their trials. (Public Policy Polling, November 2010)

* We have a history of racism in North Carolina that necessitates the U.S. Department of Justice pre-clear our legislative district maps.

There has been at least one poll out in April to show the validity of the above statements which concludes that Whites and other racial groups should also be allowed similar treatment.

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said...

Why did we need the Racial Justice Act in the first place?

To ensure the fairness and integrity of our system, and to help prevent more innocent African-American defendants from being wrongly sentenced to death. In the last two years, three African-American inmates were exonerated from North Carolina’s death row. The Racial Justice Act helps ensure that no one is sentenced to death based on the color of their skin, or the skin color of the victim.

A recent comprehensive study on race and the death penalty in North Carolina found that the odds of getting a death sentence increase three and a half times if the victim is white rather than a person of color. (“Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina” Dr. Isaac Unah, Professor John C. Boger, UNC-Chapel Hill, April 16, 2001). Similar findings exist in many other studies across the country.

Individual cases bear this out, especially with regard to the race of the victim. Two clear examples are those of Robert Bacon and Kenneth Rouse:

Robert Bacon
Robert Bacon was sentenced to death by an all-white jury in Onslow County in 1991. Not long before Bacon was to be executed, a woman who sat on his jury came forward and revealed that the jury made derogatory racial comments during deliberations and sentenced him to death in large part because of their racist views. In his sentencing hearing, jurors held it against Bacon that he was romantically involved with a white woman. In his trial, jurors made racist jokes. Bacon was granted clemency days before his scheduled execution in 2001.

Kenneth Rouse
Kenneth Rouse is an African-American man who was sentenced to death in Randolph County by an all-white jury. One member of the jury was an admitted racist and believes that “black men rape white women so they can brag to their friends.” The juror admitted in a sworn affidavit that “blacks do not care about living as much as whites do.” The juror routinely referred to African-Americans as “n------s,” and stated that “bigotry” was influential in his decision to vote for death. The juror admitted that he lied in order to sit on the jury. Kenneth Rouse is still on death row.