House Modifies Racial Justice Act
Special Report - June 13, 2012
The State House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would scale back the 2009 Racial Justice Act. On June 12, the House voted 7247 to approve SB 416Amend Death Penalty Procedures. This version of changes to the Racial Justice Act has been proposed since the House failed to muster the necessary votes to override Governor Beverly Perdue’s (D) veto of SB 9No Discriminatory Purpose in Death Penalty. SB 9 sought to amend the Act to “clarify the language in Article 101 of Chapter 15A of the General Statutes, to reflect the burden on the defendant is to show that the decision makers in the defendant's case acted with discriminatory purpose, and to clarify that this burden existed prior to the passage of Article 101 of Chapter 15A of the General Statutes.”
The Racial Justice Act allows judges to reconsider death penalty sentences given for cases in which it is found that “race was the basis of the decision to seek or impose the death penalty.” After the Act passed, nearly all death row inmates in North Carolina asked for a review of their case. Under SB 416, inmates who claim racial bias in their case would be limited to only citing statistics from the county or prosecutorial district where they received their sentence for “the period from 10 years prior to the commission of the offense to the date that is two years after the imposition of the death sentence.”
The House is scheduled to take a final vote on SB 416 today. Should it pass again by a similar margin, that vote would represent a veto-proof majority. The Senate passed a different version of the bill in March with only one dissenter. Because the House passed an amended version of the bill, the Senate will have to reconsider the bill before it can be sent to the governor.
GA Returns For Override Session - January 4, 2012
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