Condemn Governor for Not Protecting Racial Justice in Capital Murder Trials


Target: North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory  

Goal: Condemn the repeal of act that allowed individuals on death row to challenge their sentence due to racial discrimination in their trials

Passed by a predominantly Democratic legislature, the Racial Justice Act (RJA) of 2009 allowed individuals on death row in North Carolina to request a reduced prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole because racial biases and discrimination were evident in their trials in jury selection, jury sentencing and the charges brought against them. A landmark piece of legislation and the only law of its kind in the United States, this act addressed the systemic problems posed by racial discrimination in capital murder cases. In June 2013, North Carolina’s Republican governor Pat McCrory repealed the RJA under the premise that it contained serious flaws that merely created a loophole to evade the death penalty rather than lead to justice. This is outrageous because of the overwhelming evidence proving the prevalence of racial discrimination in the capital punishment system.

When the RJA was passed, almost all 153 death row inmates waged challenges under this the law, although only four death sentences were commuted to life in prison without parole. Of those 153 death row inmates, 81 of them are black. Four death row inmates were victorious in revealing the racial discrimination in their own cases, invoking the law to show blatant examples of racial discrimination. Advocates of the legislation rightfully maintain the position that the North Carolina legislature is ignoring the reality that the US is not in fact a post-racial society.

The repeal of the RJA represents one of many steps the Republican-dominated North Carolina Legislature has taken to turn back the clock with regards to progressive legislation in public education, racial equity, and unemployment. The legislature has chosen to ignore the uncomfortable truth that race influences systems of justice that elide notions of equality and fairness. In light of its repeal the governor can now expedite the executions of those inmates on death row in a state that has not performed an execution since 2006. North Carolina must sustain the RJA as a model piece of legislation that all other states that employ the death penalty should consider to eliminate the latent racial discrimination that underlies capital cases nationally. Condemn the governor for the retrenchment of civil rights victories by signing this petition.


Dear Governor McCrory,

The fight for civil rights and racial equality has been salient in the state of North Carolina for decades. Racial discrimination within the legal system has long plagued the United States, and there is ample evidence that it greatly affects the outcome of trials for those sent to death row. The repeal of the Racial Justice Act does not advance the administration of justice but rather rolls back on the progress the state had made in its recent history. The RJA allowed inmates on death row to challenge their sentence because racial biases were prevalent in jury selection, charging, and ultimately in their sentencing. If successful, their sentences would be commuted to life without the possibility of parole. Its enactment rectified racial disparities evident in the capital punishment system, as the four successful cases on the record convey. The repeal of this landmark measure is a serious blow to the progress the state has made to achieve racial equity within a flawed judicial system.

The United States does not represent a post-racial society. Structural and institutional racism plague our legal and political systems and must be rectified. North Carolina once represented a beacon of hope for states in the South as progressive with regards to racial equality and justice; the RJA figured prominently in this image. The state legislature should propagate advancing civil rights in light of its complicated and violent history regarding social equity and justice. Please preserve the protections once enshrined in the Racial Justice Act against racial discrimination undergirding the legal system.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Flickr

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47 Signatures

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