North Carolina Law Allows Death Row Inmates to Claim Racial Bias

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For years, people have claimed a racial bias in our country’s death penalty system, based on the statistics of who winds up on death row. But, now, a law in North Carolina aims to do something to address such bias when it comes to capital prosecution.

Last year, the state passed the Racial Justice Act, which allows death row inmates to challenge death penalty prosecution based on racial bias.  Kentucky is the only other state with similar legislation.

Under the state law, inmates on death row alleging bias had to file motions within a year; it’s reported that 95 percent of the state’s death row inmates have done this.

Joining us to discuss this possibly precendent-setting law is Trina Seitz, a criminologist and Associate Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.  She is also writing a book about the history of North Carolina’s death penalty from 1909 to 1945. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, law professor at George Washington University, and author of Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice also weighs in on the discussion.