The North Carolina legislature has repealed the Racial Justice Act that allowed death row inmates to have their death sentences converted to life without parole if they could demonstrate that racial discrimination was a factor in their trial or sentencing. Since the law was enacted in 2009 more than 150 death row inmates have filed challenges and four have been successful. Research from Michigan State University College of Law (PDF) has been widely cited as the definitive evidence used in the challenges. The status of the unresolved challenges filed under the act before it was repealed is unclear.
A primary sponsor of the repeal, Sen. Thom Goolsby, told The Daily Tar Heel that the repealed act was “simply an attempt to get people off death row by arguing that the frequency of the death penalty in one race is more than another. It doesn’t deal with the word ‘bias’ or ‘discrimination.’ The New York Times criticized the repeal in this editorial.