RECENT LEGISLATION: North Carolina Legislators Vote to Repeal Racial Justice Act

On June 5, legislators in North Carolina voted to repeal the Racial Justice Act, which had allowed death row inmates to challenge their sentences using statistical evidence of racial bias. Since the law took effect in 2009, most of the inmates facing execution in North Carolina appealed their sentence under the law. In 2012, Marcus Robinson, who was the first defendant to receive a hearing under the RJA, was re-sentenced to life without parole due to evidence of racial bias in jury selection. Rep. Darren Jackson expressed his disappointment at the repeal: “[W]e voted for the RJA because we wanted the death penalty to be applied uniformly, without regard to race. Be it the perpetrator, the victim, or an individual juror, race should play no part in the process.”  Governor Pat McCrory has said he will sign the repeal bill.

Three other inmates also had their death sentences reduced under a revised version of the Act.

(K. Severson, "North Carolina Repeals Law Allowing Racial Bias Claim in Death Penalty Challenges," New York Times, June 5, 2013; J. Jones, "House Lawmakers Definitively Pass Racial Justice Act Repeal," North Carolina Public Radio, June 6, 2013). See Race and Recent Legislation.