A special session of the N.C. General Assembly convened briefly Sunday night, with prayers, recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance and just a few announcements in each chamber.
The real action starts tomorrow, when lawmakers take on a bill that would repeal the Racial Justice Act. The bill is up for discussion and public comment before the Judiciary I committee, which meets at 2:30 p.m. in room 643 of the office building behind the legislature. Members of the public must sign up in advance to comment.
A Democrat-led legislature passed the Racial Justice Act in 2009, a law that has gained national attention, as it allows death-row inmates to challenge their sentences if they can prove that racial bias played a role in their trial, sentence or conviction. The law does not free inmate; it spares their lives if they can prove racial bias was a factor in their case. Instead of being put to death, inmates who proved racial bias influenced their cases would be allowed to spend their lives in prison without the chance for parole.
Nearly all of the 157 inmates on death row have filed appeals under the 2009 law. Those appeals are making their way through the courts.
Prosecutors across the state have railed against the law, and have pushed through the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys to repeal it. The organization renewed its efforts with conservative legislators two weeks ago to repeal the law.