Perdue vetoes repeal of Racial Justice Act

From staff reportsDecember 14, 2011 

Gov. Bev Perdue today vetoed the bill that would gut the Racial Justice Act, the two-year-old law that allows death-row inmates to appeal their sentences based on statistical proof of racial bias.

“I am – and always will be – a strong supporter of the death penalty,” Perdue said in a statement her office issued late this morning. “I firmly believe that some crimes are so heinous that no other punishment is adequate. As long as I am governor, I am committed to ensuring that the death penalty remains a viable punishment option in North Carolina in appropriate cases.”

But, the governor continued, it’s important the death penalty be given “fairly and that the process not be infected with prejudice based on race.”

Perdue’s statement also countered claims by the state’s prosecutors that a successful appeal under the Racial Justice Act would free inmates. The only recourse if a death-row inmates successfully argues statistical bias is a reduction in sentence to life in prison without parole.