NC's Racial Justice Act Is An Abomination
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
North Carolina is a death penalty state. With death row housing approximately 150 prisoners awaiting execution, NC hasn't executed a single prisoner since 2006. At least one prisoner has been sitting on death row for 22 years.
The people of the state approve the death penalty. Every time they are asked, they approve it. So what the heck is going on?
Well, there is what has become known here as an "informal moratorium on the death penalty" in North Carolina.
How can such a thing exist?
Well, when you have a state run by democrats for one-hundred and forty years practically anything is possible.
majority of Tar Heels are conservative in philosophy -- even your run
of the mill, regular, blue collar, church-going democrats. But for
decades the democrats sent to the state legislature were of the liberal
variety because they were the candidates the Democratic Party would
support. On the stump they'd reel off the conservative line, but once
in the halls of the legislative building at the General Assembly, they
quickly donned their liberal hats and they governed from the left --
sometimes the far left.
They been attempting for
decades to have the death penalty revoked in NC. They have been
unsuccessful because the people of North Carolina want to keep the death
The majority of voters in NC believe that if one willfully takes the life of another human
being he/she must be held to account by having their life taken by the
state. It is simple, really: You willingly take the life of another -
you forfeit your own life. So, the anti-death penalty crowd has been
using every means they could devise to slow it down, to throw the
proverbial monkey wrench into the justice machine, at every
opportunity. And it has worked.
latest shoe they have thrown into the slow-grinding gears of justice in
North Carolina is something called the Racial Justice Act. The RJA
allows inmates (regardless of their race) condemned to death, to file a
claim that "institutional" racism led to their death sentences. Under
provisions of the NC Racial Justice Act, convicted killers on North
Carolina's death row can have their cases reviewed by a judge who will
be looking for racial bias in the original trial. The state has a
chance to rebut, of course, but, and if, the judge finds there was
"substantial" influence on the death row inmate's case -- due to racial
bias -- that inmate's sentence can be converted from death to life in
prison -- with no hope, ever, of parole.
the law went into effect nearly every prisoner on NC's death row rushed
to file for a review of their cases. Over 150 death row inmates lined
up. Why not? They have nothing to lose by filing -- and their lives to
lose, for sure, if they don't.
Now, here is one of the
reasons republicans/conservatives hate this law. Originally, the law
allowed the reviewing judges to consider statistical analysis of cases
showing race MUST have been a factor in prosecution decisions -- even
though not a single person/witness testifies that bias played any role
in a specific case.
Can you see why we NC conservatives
believe this law had one aim -- and that was to permanently seal the
death chamber and vacate death row in North Carolina?
now control both houses of the NC General Assembly, the state
legislature. It's the first time in 140 years that republicans have had
control of the North Carolina legislature.
Republicans, and a few remaining conservative democratic lawmakers in the General Assembly, want the Racial Justice Act GONE.
They, along with a host of Tar Heels, are more than a little concerned
that the law is still on the books even though the GOP legislature has
been able to water it down a bit with some revisions this year. An out
and out repeal of the law has been impossible with a democrat governor
wielding the veto pen. Just last month, the voters of North Carolina
elected a republican governor, Pat McCrory.
across the state, hate the law. They say the Racial Justice Act
unfairly taints them all. They point to a statistical study comparing
death penalty cases across the state for two decades, which reportedly
found that NC prosecutors dropped black jurors from juries twice as
often as white jurors and the study is also reported to have found that a
defendant is almost three times as likely to get the death sentence if
at least one of the victims is white.
It does appear (to
us, at least) the prosecutors have a viable argument. In our opinion,
they are ALL being painted with a single rather broad brush called
racism and they don't like it. -- nor should they.
is another case of the political left using the word, itself, (RACISM)
and the toxic accusation of racism, to bring any intelligent debate on
the problem, if, indeed, there IS a problem to begin with, to a
screeching halt. It is a tried and true method -- used extensively by
the political left -- to end any debate and force their agenda on the
remainder of us -- regardless of the consequences.
So far, a total of four inmates from death row have been re-sentenced to life in prison ... all four by the same judge.
of the most recent inmates re-sentenced (all African-Americans) had
been found guilty, by the original jury, of the murders, of three law
enforcement officers. One of the murdered officers was, himself,
The other death row inmate, a female
native-American, re-sentenced to life imprisonment had been found
guilty -- by the original jury -- of the murder of two white women and
critically injuring a black woman during a gang initiation ritual as she
(the inmate) led a mixed-race gang.
The judge argued
that his rulings hewed to the terms of the 2009 RJA (Racial Justice
Act) and the the revisions to the act passed just this year.
this writing a total of one-hundred and forty-four inmates are awaiting
hearings under the RJA. All have claims pending. Only eight inmates
condemned to death are NOT filing claims.
opinion, repeal of the North Carolina Racial Justice Act should be the
first order of business when the North Carolina General Assembly next
convenes. The RJA is an abomination and ought to be stricken from the
North Carolina code of laws.
J. D. Longstreet