Saturday, June 8, 2013

NC NAACP responds to the passing of SB 306:


8 June 2013

Contact:      Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President, 919-394-8137

                   Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700

                   Atty. Jamie Phillips Cole, Public Policy Coordinator, 919-682-4700


Governor McCrory Should Veto

the Shameful Repeal of the Racial Justice Act by North Carolina Legislators

"June 5, 2013 is a day that will live in infamy," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC State Conference of over 100 adult and youth branches across the state. "The extremists who racially gerrymandered themselves into power with the money and ideas of secret national political societies, paid back some of their IOU's to their national pay masters that day.  North Carolina's Racial Justice Act - which forced our state to look squarely at the racism in our criminal justice system - was a major step in our efforts to repair the breach of slavery and Jim Crow in our state.   Our courts found the act constitutional, and that, indeed, there were acts of blatant racism involved in the sentence of death to men on death row."

Three days ago, the North Carolina House passed Senate Bill 306 to repeal the Racial Justice Act (RJA) and reinstate the death penalty in North Carolina.  Whereas nationally, the trend is to outlaw the death penalty, these extremists - with their racial motives clearly evident - are taking us backwards. We are reminded of the days after World War II, when our state legislature maintained and increased funding for North Carolina's shameful sterilization program of poor black women from 1947 to 1974.  They did this in the face of every other state legislature in the nation, having been horrified by the truth of Hitler's genocidal program against Jewish people in Germany, had quickly terminated similar race-based sterilization programs.  

The NC NAACP has always opposed the death penalty.  The Racial Justice Act passed in 2009 to allow men and women on death row to change their death sentences to life without parole, if they could prove racial bias in their death sentences.  Irrefutable research has shown that racial bias remains prevalent in North Carolina's justice system.  Ignoring this fact is an embarrassment to all the people of North Carolina.

The extremists who are running our General Assembly apparently believe capital defendants do not have the right to a trial free of racism.  Whether or not one believes in the death penalty, all people should agree that racial bias has no place in our criminal justice system.

Some legislators argued that the RJA had clogged up the judicial system.  They argued that it prevents the victims of horrific crimes, and their families, from receiving justice.  The NAACP recognizes and has fought for victim's rights throughout our 104 year history.  But SB 306 is not a victim's rights bill.  All it does is make it easier for prosecutors to bargain with criminals, and if they refuse to accept a life sentence, then to use race as a factor to sentence them to death.  This violates both the Constitution of our state and our nation.

We urge Governor McCrory to do the right thing and veto this shameful legislation.


Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members 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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