That's how WBT radio host and Creative Loafing columnist Tara Servatius appropriately describes the "Racial Justice Act" that has been passed in different forms by each the NC House (HB 472) and NC Senate (SB 461) in a recent article.
The Racial Justice Act would allow convicted murderers who are sentenced to death to appeal their sentence based on race be somehow a factor in the jury's decision. What exactly is "a factor"? Well, that can be just about anything. Tara writes:
The beauty of this bill, from an ax murderer's perspective, is that
there are no limits on which statistics you can use. So if you don't
like the 2009 FBI statistics, and your case stretches over a few years,
as most death penalty cases do, you could use the 2010 statistics.
Reporting to the FBI is voluntary, though most law enforcement agencies
increasingly do it. In 2004, 380 North Carolina law enforcement
agencies reported homicides to the FBI. In 2005, 448 did. That means
the stats fluctuate annually, so there's plenty of statistical
"diversity" to choose from.
And if all of that fails, you could
always use the statistical racial makeup of the jury. The law is so
nuts, your own lawyer could later testify that he might have
discriminated against you in jury selection, and that could work, too.
Or you could simply argue that your jury's racial makeup didn't mirror
the state's or your county's or, well, as you can see, the
possibilities are endless.
She then closes with the most important aspect of the impact of this bill, on the victims' families and the way justice is dispensed in our state:
The most offensive part of this bill, from a victim's perspective,
is the line stating that statistical proof that those of your race have
been discriminated against in sentencing will trump every other
aggravating factor in determining whether your death sentence is
So you robbed your victim before you tortured her
for three days, stabbed her 83 times, recorded the whole thing and
uploaded it to YouTube along with your signed confession? No biggie.
Race, from now on, is the only thing that will matter.
Hopefully legislators will see this bill for what it really is before final passage.