Governor Vetoes Death-Row Racial Bias Bill

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's governor on Wednesday halted a Republican effort to dismantle a law that gives death row inmates a new way to use racial bias as an argument for appealing their sentences.

Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a bill that would have essentially repealed 2009's Racial Justice Act, which was designed to address concerns that race has played a role in sentencing prisoners to death.

The law says a judge must reduce a death sentence to life in prison without parole if he determines race was a significant factor to impose the penalty. It creates a new kind of court hearing where prisoners can use statistics to make their case to a judge. North Carolina and Kentucky are the only states with laws like it.

The Democratic governor had signed the 2009 bill into law. In a statement Wednesday, she said that "it is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina."

Prosecutors who pushed the repeal said the act is clogging the courts with new appeals and, in effect, halting capital punishment. Nearly all of the 158 prisoners currently on death row - both black and white inmates - have filed papers seeking relief under the Racial Justice Act.

Perdue's veto means she must call lawmakers back to Raleigh to consider an override by Jan. 8. Lawmakers it difficult to override the veto, especially in the House, where it passed in June along party lines. Republicans are a few votes shy of a veto-proof majority in the chamber.

"I am disappointed in yet another decision by Gov. Perdue to put politics ahead of principle," House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in a prepared statement. He said she's let down families of victims and prosecutors "who need every available resource to crack down on violent criminals."

Perdue rejected arguments from prosecutors that the 2009 law would allow some death-row inmates to be paroled after 20 years in prison if their crimes were committed before October 1994. She also said she supports capital punishment and is committed to keeping it "a viable punishment option in North Carolina in appropriate cases."

The governor's veto came two days after she met with relatives of murder victims. Some of those relatives asked her to keep the 2009 act on the books.

"We applaud her for understanding that racially-biased justice is not justice at all and for reaffirming that she values the lives and the safety of all citizens regardless of race," said a statement from Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, a Raleigh-based group that opposes the death penalty.

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  • by ralphie Location: ahoskie on Dec 14, 2011 at 09:18 PM
    Really you can certainly set you watch by democrats: THEY SIDE WITH THE CRIMINALS TRAITORS AND INVADERS EVERY TIME!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 01:52 AM in reply to ralphie
      Pretty sure people who are democrats don't side with big business and republicans that often.
      • reply
        by ralphie on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:31 AM in reply to
        I prefer to side with Americans!
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 15, 2011 at 03:21 PM in reply to
        Well then, learn about your own house, apparently, you have no clue what you are voting for and that is irresponsible as a citizen. Also, keep up, pay you don't even know your own party, really!
  • by ralphie Location: ahoskie on Dec 14, 2011 at 08:31 PM
    you can certainly set you watch by democrats: THEY SIDE WITH THE CRIMINALS TRAITORS AND INVADERS EVERY TIME!!!
  • by S Location: ENC on Dec 14, 2011 at 07:16 PM
    I guess Bev figured there were more voters who had relatives in prisons than voters who had relatives in the ground because of them...The only good thing to come out of this is that victims families can finally see the true colors of this ultra liberal,hug=a=thug,greedy politician whose only concern is the criminal element...Please let's get her out,the sooner the better. She DOES NOT REPRESENT the decent,hardworking people.
  • by Liberals on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:59 PM
    Liberals will defend criminals at ALL costs! Time for Democraps to go!
  • by Patsy Cline on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:31 PM
    I'm sure ECU Prof would state that "they are born that way." [going on his posts from another blog on this site].
  • by Anonymous on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:23 PM
    Sad...again Beverly is 100% correct and still finds herself on the wrong side of the ignorant. Her comment says it all; "it is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina." That's 100% correct, and there really isn't anyway around it.
    • reply
      by Is this on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:38 PM in reply to
      Sounds like Bev The Joker Perdue is trolling again!
      • reply
        by ??? on Dec 14, 2011 at 07:21 PM in reply to Is this
        My guess is Barlow or Lavon, come out you cowards and tell us what you think about this one. Never mind, we already know it is Bush's fault!!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 01:54 AM in reply to ???
          Oddly enough, if I'm not mistaken (I'm not) more than one innocent person was executed under Bush's tenure as Governor of Texas. Fun fact for you.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 01:53 AM in reply to Is this
        Please then explain why a person who is black should get the death penalty for a crime, while a white person who comits the same crime only gets 20 years? Or life, with the posibility of parole?
  • by pete Location: grifton on Dec 14, 2011 at 05:17 PM
    Go back home to West Virginia and harrass the coal miners at daddies coal mine after your one term.
  • by Jacobi Location: Greenville on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:57 PM
    I too am so sick and tired of The Racial Junk. Move on people, we live in a whole new era. We have a black president for sake! I voted for him! I am white. And unfortunately I marked Straight democrat on my ballot. That means OMG I voted for this ignorant Govenor. Send her home to Craven County and I hope she is never a victim of a violent crime where race is an issue! Equal Rights for everyone no matter the color! And Bev just know that my vote was definately cast by mistake and I sure hope our next Govenor can fix all the things you have screwed up!
    • reply
      by c-had on Dec 20, 2011 at 06:04 AM in reply to Jacobi
      How can you ,in good conscience,vote a straight party ballot.If I am not clear on a candidates views and positions I do not vote.What you are doing is very irresponsible,not to mention stupid.
  • by endangered species (white male) on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:53 PM
    This shows her true colors. Hopefully it will wake more people up as to why she must go.
  • by Frank Sinatra Location: Heaven on Dec 14, 2011 at 04:49 PM
    The Gov and the Prez came in together and now it looks like they go out together.

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