Family members of murder victims spoke out Thursday to defend the Racial Justice Act, which the legislature is working to repeal.
The 2009 law allows death row inmates to have their sentences reduced to life without parole if they can prove racial bias in jury selection or another aspect of their case. Legislation approved by the House this week says that statistical evidence alone isn't enough to prove bias.
Relatives of some victims asked lawmakers to leave the law in place, saying it's the best way to ensure justice for their loved ones will truly be color-blind.
"It's a slap in the face to me because I'm not here because our system worked," said Darryl Hunt, who was on death row before being exonerated in 2004. "I didn't spend 19 years, four months in prison for a crime I didn't commit because our system worked. If our system worked, I'd have never gone to prison."
Hunt and the victims' relatives said lawmakers are ignoring studies that show the state's judicial system is biased.