North Carolina Gov. Pat. McCrory has repealed a law that allowed convicted murderers to seek reduced sentences if they could successfully prove the outcome of their cases had been shaped by racial biases.
According to the AP, the 2009 Racial Justice Act has been at the center of heated debates in the state between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans and the governor said the law was poorly set up and provided the opportunity for each of North Carolina's death-row inmates to pursue appeals under the law no matter what their race is. They felt the law infringed on the will of a jury's unanimous decision.
But supporters of the law felt that in many of the cases involving death-row inmates, evidence suggests that their punishments were given by racially biased juries.
No inmate has been executed in North Carolina since 2006 and Governor McCrory said repealing the law clears "procedural roadblocks" that prevented the state from performing executions for the past seven years, Reuters reported.
"The state's district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice," McCrory said.
Since it will be applied retroactively to currently pending Racial Justice Act claims, the process of repealing the law will continue to cause many legal issues, says Mark Rabil, director of Wake Forest University law school's Innocence and Justice Clinic.
"To me, it's a violation of due process," Rabil said. "I don't really know what the legislature thinks they've done with our money other than buy a lot more litigation."