Supporters of racial justice act rally Wednesday

Supporters of racial justice act rally Wednesday

May 18, 2011 10:34:38 AM PDT
Supporters of the racial justice act rallied Wednesday at the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh.A proposed bill would nullify the 2009 act, which allows inmates to allege racial bias in their death sentences.

Forsyth County Representative Larry Womble defended the current Racial Justice Act by criticizing the bill that could repeal it.

"House Bill 615 is a bill to actually eliminate and destroy the Racial Justice Act as it is," Womble said. "The original bill was House Bill 472, which was passed back in '09 and as a result of that it is already a law."

However, Seth Edwards of the State Conference of District Attorneys spoke in favor of the bill to repeal. He said he's prosecuted and defended people of all races.

"Now ladies and gentlemen, when a case is declared capital, prosecutors do not see color, we see brutal killings," Edwards said.

However, Representative Paul Stam, co-chair of the subcommittee conducting the hearing, brought a sharp rebuke as Edwards continued.

"I am personally offended when someone alleges that I see color in any case, not just a death penalty case," Edwards added.

But those concerned about repeal agree with Rep. Womble -- leave the Racial Justice Act alone.

"This is not a get out of jail bill," Womble said. "They will have to remain in jail for the termination of their life."

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