In the past, and sometimes even today, racial injustices have an impact on the justice system and the people who are caught up in it. In 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the Racial Justice Act, or RJA, which allowed prisoners who were on death row to challenge their sentences.
Unfortunately, just a few years later in 2013, the new North Carolina General Assembly, now controlled by Republicans, worked on diluting that law. Then, in 2013, it was repealed. Perhaps most shockingly, that repeal placed prisoners who had won their cases back on death row.
The Racial Justice Act is not the only option
Today, those who filed for help through the RJA before it was repealed are getting the opportunity to continue their cases thanks to a decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court. It has not been reestablished as a law, though.
However, it is worth stating that the RJA is not the only option for people who are dealing with death sentences or who are currently imprisoned due to racial bias (if they previously applied). There are other alternatives, such as seeking exoneration, which could be possible in their cases and in other people’s cases who don’t qualify.
The reality is that those who do qualify for the RJA are just seeing themselves moved off death row and into life in prison, which is not true justice for many of these individuals. The same is true today. Those who are treated unfairly due to race deserve better. Bias is extremely unfair to people going to court to defend themselves, and they deserve an opportunity to fight back.
Everyone deserves fair treatment in the criminal justice system. Trials, along with the juries and judges that go with them, must be honest and of good integrity.
If you believe that your case was mishandled or that you faced racial bias, you should let your attorney know. Your attorney will fight to minimize the risk of bias impacting you in court, and they can also assist you in appealing a decision in your case if you believe that race played a role in the outcome.