Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said repealing the law would remove the “procedural roadblocks” that had kept North Carolina from executing anyone since 2006 despite there being 152 people on death row. The racial makeup shows that of the 152 people on death row in North Carolina, 80 are black, 62 are white and the remainder fall into other racial categories in a state where African Americans overall make up around a fifth of the population.
The Racial Justice Act, the only law of its kind in the United States, had led to four inmates getting their sentences changed to life in prison without parole after taking effect in 2009.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina criticized the repeal on Wednesday and accused state leaders of ignoring widespread evidence of systemic racial bias. “The Racial Justice Act brought to light undeniable proof that North Carolina’s death penalty system is plagued by racial bias,” said Sarah Preston, its Policy Director.
“To me, it’s a violation of due process,” said Mark Rabil, director of Wake Forest University law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic in Winston-Salem. “I don’t really know what the legislature thinks they’ve done with our money other than buy a lot more litigation.”