RALEIGH, N.C. — A law that lets death row inmates challenge their sentences may be about to get weaker.
The state Senate voted 30-18 Wednesday afternoon to approve a rewrite of the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allows death row inmates to use statistics to show racism played role in their sentencing. Under the bill now on its way to Gov. Beverly Perdue, statistics alone would no longer be sufficient evidence to convert a death sentence to life in prison.
Backers of the rewrite say that inmates have abused the law, challenging their convictions based on what one senator called "cooked statistics." Lawmakers who want to keep the Racial Justice Act as it is say the rewrite guts the measure and makes it too hard for death row inmates to prove bias.
Perdue, who vetoed an attempt to repeal the law last year, will now decide whether to veto the latest measure or sign it into law.
The new legislation passed both the House and the Senate with enough support to override a veto.