Under a new state House bill death row inmates would have to prove the state discriminated against them in their trial not just argue race was a significant factor. The Racial Justice Act allows those appealing their death sentence before a special panel to use statistics to show more blacks are sentenced to death than whites. They could also have people testify that the system is discriminatory.
While H615 wouldn’t repeal the Racial Justice Act but it would require the claimant to prove the prosecutor actually based a decision to seek the death penalty on race. The primary sponsors are Republican Justin Burr, Sarah Stevens, Dan Ingle and Paul Stam.
They base their proposal on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Georgia case. The Justices held that just showing more blacks were sentenced to death for killing whites than whites for killing blacks was not enough to prove that Georgia based the death penalty on race.
A few death row inmates have been freed after appeals, but those cases were decided by a lack of evidence or evidence that someone else must have committed the crime. Those rulings had nothing to do with racial discrimination.