Tuesday, June 07, 2011

COSTS of Repeal of NC Racial Justice Act (Actual Facts)

Current Status: Stay Alert as this threatening Repeal could suddenly be passed. Thanx to all who in other states have made mention of our concerns here such as some activist groups in Texas and the National ACLU - For any in NC, plz help us watch for each new calendar in the NC full House so as not to miss getting out the word.

Here is one of the best pieces written during the now "on hold" process of the debate whether or not to repeal the NC Racial Justice Act in NC's full House of Representatives. Often scare tactics are used to push a Repeal, Act or Bill through as you often know. What's surprising is to see how COSTS were used as a reason to Repeal this historic and needed RJA. Hats off to former DA, Mr. Gaston Gazette, who's got the experience and does the research to back up his digging.

Costs of a repeal of the Racial Justice Act | racial, act, justice
Written by Gaston Gazette

Former Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Johnson currently serves as a private practitioner and operates a primarily criminal practice in Greensboro. He has with experience in federal criminal and state criminal including white collar criminal cases, murder, drugs, bank robbery and fraud.

Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:01

In 2009, North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act, a landmark bill to address racial bias in the use of the death penalty. At that time, prosecutors unsuccessfully opposed the bill — claiming that it was a surreptitious play to end the death penalty, that it would overwhelm and clog up the court system and falsely asserting that it would allow murderers to be freed from prison.

Two years later, we can see how unfounded those claims were. Death penalty prosecutions have continued at the same rate as before the RJA. Prosecutors have continued to seek death penalties and juries have continued to sentence a few people to die. Just like before the RJA. Neither has the RJA released a single person from prison, because the law doesn’t allow it. Those who prove race discrimination will have their sentences converted from death to life without possibility of parole. Period. Three black men have been released from death row and freed in the last several years, but that was because they were innocent.

Now, prosecutors again seek to kill the Racial Justice Act, this time with grossly exaggerated estimates of future cost in the context of a severely strained state budget. Prosecutors, through the Administrative Office of the Courts, assert that the RJA will cost North Carolina citizens an extra 23 million dollars over the next four years.

Once again, they are using scare tactics to paint a distorted picture of the RJA. Here are the facts:

So far, the Racial Justice Act has cost much less than $1 million dollars per year. In contrast, North Carolina spends at least an extra $11 million each year to pay for the death penalty system.

Active litigation of RJA claims has been limited to only a few jurisdictions, serving as models, thus greatly reducing court time and expense devoted to Racial Justice Act claims. That litigation will act as a guide, likely resulting in settlements or dismissals in many of the remaining cases.
Because inmates rightfully and legally filed motions under a constitutional law, passage of the proposed repeal would end up costing the state more money in legal actions than it would be to continue the Racial Justice Act litigation as it is currently proceeding. This bears repeating. Repeal is likely to result in increased, not decreased litigation costs.

Lastly, following the passage of the RJA, two major studies were conducted showing racial discrimination in charging and sentencing and the pervasive practice of prosecutors excluding qualified African Americans from jury service in capital cases. The studies were funded by private foundation and were free to the State of North Carolina.

In light of the findings of those studies, and the fact that we have an established history of sentencing innocent black people to death and excluding qualified black citizens from service on capital juries, isn’t the small amount of money we’re spending on the Racial Justice Act worth it? Let’s call it insurance, that no one is ever again executed in North Carolina because of the color of his skin, or that of his victim’s. If we can’t afford to insure that race discrimination is not a part of the death penalty, then maybe it is the death penalty that we can’t afford.

Read more here

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