Racial Justice Act in Jeopardy: A Message and Call to Action from NC Bishops Jugis and Burbidge
June 18, 2012
From The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Catholic Bishop of Charlotte, and The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Catholic Bishop of Raleigh:
We write to ask your support in protecting the Racial Justice Act, which is currently the law in our State. As you may recall, we supported the introduction and passage of the Act in 2009, and expressed our gratitude to our legislators in the North Carolina State Assembly upon it becoming law.
In 2011, we opposed a measure in the Assembly that would have effectively nullified the Racial Justice Act. This Bill was subsequently vetoed by Governor Beverly Perdue. This same legislation from last year has now been modified and re-introduced under a different name, yet with the same net effect, which is to nullify the Racial Justice Act.
On June 13, 2012, this legislation, entitled Senate Bill 416 "Amend Death Penalty Procedures," passed the House on a final vote of 73 to 47. The Bill now goes to the Senate for concurrence as soon as this week.
In its current form, the proposed Bill effectively eliminates from the Racial Justice Act the ability of the defendant to prove that race is a significant factor in his or her sentence to death or in the selection of jurors for his or her trial.
The elimination of these key provisions from the Racial Justice Act is problematic as the Act has already provided the opportunity for defendants to demonstrate that racial bias has unjustly affected capital murder trials here in North Carolina.
The elimination of these provisions in the Act is therefore not acceptable for us as Catholics, as we believe in the immeasurable dignity and equal worth of all people, and reject any unjust treatment or discrimination against the human person.
Thus, we believe that the Racial Justice Act should be preserved as law in North Carolina and we respectfully request that you contact your state Senator as soon as possible and encourage his or her vote AGAINST Senate Bill 416.
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Alert from http://www.catholicvoicenc.org