The Racial Justice Act (which is a part of Senate Bill 306) is now one step from being repealed in the North Carolina General Assembly. House Judiciary B took a vote Wednesday and SB 306 is headed to the House floor for a vote.
House Judiciary B meets every Wednesday at 10 am in the Legislative Office Building and SB 306 was referred to the committee in early April. Needless to say, many people have been anxiously waiting for the bill to be presented, heard, and voted on. Families with loved ones that have been murdered have been looking at the Legislative Calendar every day since this session has begun. Nervousness, anxiety, and anticipation are only a few of the feelings that come when they are looking to see if SB 306 is on the docket for the day.
Last week began the process included hearing from various organizations, District Attorneys, and the public. People who supported and opposed the bill spoke to various points. Al Lowry, the brother of slain state trooper Ed Lowry — whose murderer was sentence was commuted because of the Racial Justice Act– sat beside me listening to every word that was said. One could only imagine listening but being the only person present in the room who can really speak to the impact of the Racial Justice Act on a family. Al has been present at every Senate committee meeting and House Committee Meeting, he spoke at Civitas’ Conservative Leadership Conference, and he gave numerous interviews with the press. and he sat in the Gallery when the Senate debated the bill. His courage, determination, and love continue to show in efforts to repeal the Racial Justice Act. These acts are just a few of what most families do on their own time to see justice carried out for their loved ones.
Walking out of the meeting room today the tears started to flow from Marcia Howell (mother of Yvette Howell who was murdered) well as from Al Lowry. They hugged to celebrate this small step in repealing the Racial Justice Act. What was said next will stay in my mind forever.
Marcia Howell, still teary-eyed, said, “I am sorry that your case will not be overturned when this is repealed.”
Al responded, “If you never have to go through what we have been through, then it was worth it”
The Lowry Family’s journey is far from over but their fight will help other families avoid some of the heartache they have had to endure.
The SB 306 passed 9-4 along party lines.
For Senate Bill 306
Rep. Stam (R-Wake)
Rep. Faircloth (R-Guilford)
Rep. Saine (R-Lincoln)
Rep. Ross (R-Alamance)
Rep. Conrad (R-Forsyth)
Rep. Bryan (R-Mecklenburg)
Rep. Jordan (R-Ashe)
Rep. McGrady (R- Henderson)
Rep. Hurley (R-Randolph)
Against Senate Bill 306
Rep. Michaeux (D-Durham)
Rep. Glazier (D-Cumberland)
Rep. Richardson (D-Franklin)
Rep. Foushee (D- Durham)