Religious leaders involved with the Carrboro, N.C.-based People of Faith Against the Death Penalty are speaking out against a bill they say would effectively repeal 2009’s Racial Justice Act. The bill was filed by Republicans Justin Burr (Montgomery), Sarah Stevens (Alleghany, Surry), Dan Ingle (Alamance) and Paul Stam (Wake) in the North Carolina House on Monday — the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the organization points out.

From a release:

“North Carolina has a history of racial epithets in capital jury rooms, all-white juries clearly valuing the lives of white victims more than black victims, and innocent minority defendants being sentenced to die,” said the Rev. Gail D. McAfee of Fayetteville. “To take away the protection of the Racial Justice Act is to turn your back on fairness and equal justice under law. The fact that this bill was introduced on the anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. shows the kind of racial insensitivity that the Racial Justice Act protects against.”


“This new bill will put a grinding halt to the attempt that’s being made to address the real and insidious effects of racial bias in our state’s courts and death penalty cases,” said the Rev. Joshua Bower, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Whiteville. “Racial bias has absolutely no place in the death penalty and this new bill will, effectively, remove such protections.”

‘James Crow, Jr.’ Act

The new bill is called the Act to Reform the Racial Justice Act of 2009.

“They should call the new bill the James Crow, Jr. Act,” said Stephen Dear, executive director of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, a national nonprofit organization based in Carrboro, NC. “This new bill’s supporters seem to want to take us back to the days of noose lapel pins in the courtroom and racial epithets in the jury room. They seem to like the days of no checks on all-white juries. They seem to like that 76 percent of all people executed by the state of North Carolina have been black. They seem to like the fact that defendants who kill white victims are three times more likely to receive a death sentence than those who kill non-whites.”

In February a Forsyth County, NC Superior Court ruled the Racial Justice Act constitutional.

The organization says more than 600 religious leaders across the state have endorsed a letter in favor of the Racial Justice Act.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One reply on “N.C. religious leaders speak out against repeal of Racial Justice Act”

  1. the north carolina court system has to be put up under bigotry watch and human rights watch , they have violated their own hand on a bible with fairness and social justice as they took oath to act in fairness and social justice, they have broken the human rights law and oath that put them in court seats as judges, our nation had better wake up and fast, the klan is trying to take our nation back into evil and wicked history of digression, where womens rights and minority rights and all others in between rights are violated,and people are treated unfairly and unjust, the republican party is one of these nightmares where people have been looked over and mistreated out of racism and bigotry and their are others also, its alot of problems, this nation has digressed emensly in morals, and character, from every level, the hetersex;ual gender has become a ses pool of pedephillia, and wife beaters, and human traffickers, across the nation, bodies of children and women are found every single day by the wicked hand of evil hetersexual men, from incest and murder and rape, all hetersexual men. more trategic actions must be taken , men acting worse than animals , trying to gang bangs and trains on chidren and women , the filth and violence of men or at an all time high in this nation, so our court rooms had better be made diverse in color and gender, and nationality for fariness, their is just too must bigotry by the klan and it is costing peoples lives. and innocents, we have too many corrupt people in the court sytem and other system and must be acted against with serious, actions by the aclu, and the splc, and the naacp the courts diversity cannot include any unfair people like klan groups or hate groups are relighios hate groups, they must be other wise diverse and made mandatory, of women, gay people men and all colors that are decent liberty human rights people who do not look at skin color or sexual orientations, but at the case before them in fairness.

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