RALEIGH (AP) — Religious leaders of several faiths are opposing the repeal of a North Carolina law allowing death row inmates to have their sentences reduced to life in prison if they can prove racial prejudice played a part in their trials.
The leaders criticized the Senate’s decision to repeal the Racial Justice Act, which allowed inmates slated for capital punishment to use statistics and other forms of evidence to make their case. The 2009 act was weakened last year by the Republican-led General Assembly.
The leaders cite studies indicating racial prejudice in jury selection and sentencing. They say a third of the state’s 159 death-row inmates were sentenced by all-white juries.
Four inmates have successfully fought for a reduced sentence under the act.
The repeal still needs the approval of the House.