This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss three bills. The bill that most people attending were interested in was SB 416, “Amend Death Penalty Procedures.” Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) presented the bill, otherwise known as Amending the 2009 Racial Justice Act. Stam made some key points to what would change in the bill.
Stam told the Committee, “The first thing lawmakers must understand is that in the hearing they are only looking at the defendant’s race. They are not looking at the race of the victim because most murders are black on black or white on white. Rather, he said, the panel must look at the case only because the defendant is the one who says that racism was a part of the decision to apply the death penalty.”
Stam also noted that the bill requires some other evidence to prove racism besides just statistics. In his view, statistics are a measurement and do not prove that racism actually happened. Just as in a court case, he concluded, we must present evidence.
Senator Chris Carney (R-Iredell) made the most important comment at the end of the Committee meeting by reminding everyone that the men involved in this issue are proven to be murderers. We must remember that they are guilty nonetheless.