Wednesday, December 14, 2011


[F]or the same reason that I signed the Racial Justice Act two years ago: it is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina.
That's North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue this morning explaining why she vetoed the repeal of the state's Racial Justice Act.  (See here.)
The law permits folks who've been sentenced to be murdered by the state to present evidence to a judge that the sentence was racially motivated.  If the judge agrees, the sentence is reduced (if that's the right word) from murder while in prison to death while in prison, that is, from the death penalty to LWOP.
North Carolina and Kentucky are the only states with such law.  
Does it matter?  Ask Duane Buck down in Texas if he thinks a racial justice act might have made a difference to him?
Purdue says she's a strong supporter of capital punishment, and I have no reason to doubt her. 
But she's taken a principled stand on race twice now - first by signing the law and now by vetoing its repeal.
Good for her.
I don't know a thing about North Carolina politics, but I'd bet that's not a popular veto.  Not because Tar Heels think race should be a factor in death sentencing (OK, some probably do, but most would at least deny it) but because those from the Old North State believe that the racial justice act will prevent all executions and puts vicious murderers back out on the street.  Of course, that's not so, but the relationship between what's true and what people believe is often tenuous at best.  This, I suspect, is one of the times when the relationship between belief and truth is oppositional.
But the Governor did it anyway.
It was the right thing to do.
As we praise Purdue, though, it's worth just a moment to condemn the cold racism of the legislature.  They who said,
Who gives a shit?  Fuck 'em.  They probably deserved to die anyhow.  And maybe even because.
As I said, good for Governor Purdue.
And shame on those who made her do it.

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