RALEIGH - Yesterday, the North Carolina Senate gave final approval to S.B. 306, a bill that will repeal what remains of the Racial Justice Act (RJA), a landmark civil rights law that allows death-row inmates to appeal their sentences and seek life without parole if they could demonstrate that racial bias played a role in their sentence. The bill now heads to Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. Contact Gov. McCrory here to ask him to veto S.B. 306, and watch the video below to learn more about the disturbing role of racial bias in North Carolina's death penalty system....
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RALEIGH – On Wednesday, June 5, the North Carolina House of Representatives approved S.B. 306, a bill that seeks to restart executions in North Carolina and would repeal the Racial Justice Act (RJA), a historic civil rights law that seeks to address racial bias in the state’s death penalty system by allowing death-row inmates to appeal their sentences and receive life without parole if they can show that race was a factor in their sentencing. The North Carolina Senate has already approved the bill once, and it now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) released the following statement:
“The Racial Justice Act has made it possible to shine a light on widespread and indisputable evidence of racial bias in North Carolina’s death penalty system that needs to be addressed,” said ACLU-NC Policy Director Sarah Preston. “It would be beyond tragic if North Carolina turns its back on that evidence and haphazardly rushes to restart executions, knowing full well that our capital punishment process is plagued by racial bias and other flaws that might very well lead to the execution of innocent people. Even those who support the death penalty should agree that capital sentences must be handed down impartially and with respect for due process, yet this bill makes it harder, if not impossible, to achieve that goal.”...
RALEIGH – According to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, North Carolina spent nearly $55 million enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010, while statewide African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at 3.4 times the rate of whites, despite comparable marijuana usage rates. The report, Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests, released today, is the first ever to examine state and county marijuana arrest rates nationally by race.
Statewide, North Carolina law enforcement made 20,983 marijuana arrests in 2010 – the 10th most in the nation – and marijuana possession arrests accounted for 53.6 percent of all drug arrests in North Carolina in 2010. Fifty percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession in North Carolina were African American, even though statewide African Americans comprise only 22 percent of the population – a 28 point difference.
“The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color,” said Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the report. “State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost. The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn’t work.”...
Twenty-five groups representing a broad spectrum of public interests have joined together to formally announce their opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 648, North Carolina's "Commerce Protection Act." These groups, both national and local in scope, have sent a joint letter to the bill’s sponsor expressing their opposition. The letter reads in part:
“While other states’ bills are aimed squarely at limiting whistleblowing, chilling free speech and keeping the public unaware of animal abuse and food safety problems on factory farms, SB 648 would prevent transparency across all industries…We hope that you will choose to protect the safety of North Carolina’s residents despite pressure from groups like the Chamber of Commerce which, in its support for this bill, misses the fact that a loss of transparency is ultimately bad for business, dangerous for consumers and a violation of this country's values."
The letter was signed by the following groups: A Well Fed World; American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina; The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®); Amnesty International USA; Animal Legal Defense Fund; Animal Welfare Institute; Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; Center for Constitutional Rights; Compassion in World Farming; Compassion Over Killing; Defending Dissent Foundation; Farm Forward; Farm Sanctuary; Food Chain Workers Alliance; Food & Water Watch; Government Accountability Project; The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); Mercy for Animals (MFA); North Carolina Justice Center; North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Socially Responsible Agriculture Project; Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry; United Food & Commercial Workers International Union; and United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMFW)....