Death Penalty

NC Lawmakers Rewrite Law that Had Allowed Bias Statistics to Negate Death Sentences


North Carolina lawmakers have overridden a gubernatorial veto and rewritten a law that had allowed death-row inmates to use racial-bias statistics to get a reduced sentence of life without parole.

The new law still allows capital defendants to offer statistics to show their trials were tainted by bias, but they can’t get a reduced sentence based on the statistics alone, report the News & Observer, the Associated Press and Reuters.

Other provisions of the rewritten law:

• Allow statistics to be cited only for the county or district where the crime occurred, rather than the entire state or region.

• Limit the time span for statistics showing racial bias to 10 years before the crime and two years after the sentence. There was no time limit in the prior law.

• Do not allow the race of the victim to be taken into account in the statistics.

Prosecutors claimed the prior version of the law was an attempt to stop executions in the state. Opponents of the rewritten law say it makes nearly impossible to prove discrimination.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Applying New Law, NC Judge Overturns Death Sentence Due to Racial Bias”

ABA Journal: “North Carolina’s Death Row Inmates Let Statistics Back Up Bias Claims”

ABAJournal.com: “N.C. Law Allows Evidence of Racial Bias in Death Penalty Decisions”

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