North Carolina Governor Vetoes Racial Death Row Bill

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Racial Death Row Bill

Republicans argued that death row inmates should not have a new way to argue that bias based on skin color influenced their sentences, but Gov. Beverly Perdue rejected the suggestion.

Published December 15, 2011

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has shut down efforts to roll back progress on a law protecting from racial bias in death penalty cases.


On Wednesday, Perdue announced her veto against a Republican bill that essentially repealed a 2009 law designed to give death row inmates a new way to argue that their skin color influenced their sentences. 


The law, which the governor signed in 2009, says that a judge must reduce a death sentence to life in prison without parole if he or she determines race was a significant factor in the sentence.


"It is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina," Perdue said in a statement.


Prosecutors pushing for the repeal argued that the act is clogging courts with new appeals. Nearly all of the 158 prisoners, Black and white, on death row have filed papers seeking relief under the Racial Justice Act.


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.


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 (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Written by Danielle Wright


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