On May 12, the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to prevent racial bias in the administration of the death penalty. The senate’s action came just hours after a House panel passed a nearly identical bill, known as the Racial Justice Act. The bill allows those convicted or accused of capital murder to argue through the use of statistical studies that race played a role in their death sentence or a prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty. If that bias is proven, a judge could vacate the death sentence or order that capital punishment not be sought. The next step for either version of the Racial Justice Act is a vote on the House or Senate floor. Two years ago, the House approved a similar bill. A video about the Racial Justice Act produced by the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium may be viewed here.

(Associated Press, “NC House panel Oks method on racial bias claim,” May 12, 2009). See Race and Recent Legislation.