North Carolina Legislature Passes Historic Racial Justice Act

For Immediate Release

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Phone: (202) 463-2940
Email: washingtonbureau@naacpnet.org

North Carolina Legislature Passes Historic Racial Justice Act

Becomes First State in South to Allow Death Row Inmates to Challenge Racial Fairnes of Their Sentencing

WASHINGTON - The NAACP announced today the North Carolina State Legislature
passed the North Carolina Racial Justice Act.  This Act, the first of
its kind, will allow inmates sentenced to death, to challenge the
racial fairness of their sentencing.

“This is a monumental
victory for the NAACP, the residents of North Carolina, and for the
innocent men and women sentenced to Death Row.  The passage of the
Racial Justice Act makes North Carolina the first state in the south to
provide this type of remedy and should be a model for other states
throughout the nation,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd
Jealous.  “Under the stewardship of our North Carolina State Conference
President, Reverend William Barber II, this important piece of
legislation now lies in the hands of Governor Purdue, and we urge her
to sign it and allow the 98 people on death row in North Carolina the
chance to get a fair trial.”

The North Carolina State Senate voted 25-18 on Tuesday to pass the legislation, and the bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

“The
passage of the Racial Justice Act is a major step not only in North
Carolina but potentially in the South for dealing with the continuing
legacy of systemic racism in the application of the death penalty,”
said Reverend William Barber II, President of the NAACP North Carolina
State Conference.

North Carolina currently has 163 people on
death row, 60 percent of whom are black. Supporters of the Racial
Justice Act point to a 2001 study by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill
that found that the odds of a defendant receiving the death penalty in
North Carolina increase if the victim of the murder is white.

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Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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