Death Penalty

NC governor seeks to remove execution roadblocks with repeal of Racial Justice Act

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a repeal of the state’s Racial Justice Act this week, saying the law had created “procedural roadblocks” to executions.

Four inmates used the law to change their death sentences to life in prison, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (sub. req.), the Associated Press and Reuters. The law allowed death-row inmates to void their death sentences by showing racial bias was “a significant factor” in sentencing. Statistics could be used to support those claims, but they had to focus on the jurisdiction of the defendant’s trial. A prior version of the law, adopted in 2009, made it easier to prove bias.

North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006. McCrory said almost all of the state’s 153 death-row inmates had challenged their sentences under the law.

“The state’s district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice,” McCrory said in a statement.

Prior coverage: “Victim’s Brother Shouts at Judge Who Overturns Three Death Sentences for Racial Bias” “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”

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