Too Much Racial Justice In North Carolina?


In a victory over racial bias in the death penalty, Marcus Robinson's death sentence was reduced to life in prison in April 2012.

North Carolina lawmakers are trying to gut the historic Racial Justice Act.

When North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act (RJA), it was a beautiful moment. A state with a long history of racism was vowing to face that legacy head on, by honestly confronting racial bias in death penalty cases.  I grew up in North Carolina and, believe me, this was needed.  It was also a remarkable political achievement and it made me proud to be from there.

Then the law, which allows the use of statistical evidence to prove racial bias in capital cases, was applied.

In the case of Marcus Robinson, a North Carolina judge found that “race was a materially, practically and statistically significant factor” in jury selection at Robinson’s trial, and that statistics showed widespread racial bias in other capital cases across the state at the same time. Robinson’s death sentence was reduced to life without parole.


Race And Criminal Justice: A New Hope?


Marcus Robinson will not be executed but instead spend the rest of his life in prison after a judge ruled that his death sentence was tainted by racial discrimination.

Our justice system has a racial bias problem, both in the way it treats suspects, and the way it treats victims.

The cases of Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin underscore this.  If the races were reversed would Troy Davis’ execution have been pursued so relentlessly, would he even have received a death sentence, would police have been so quick to ignore other potential suspects?

And, had the races been reversed, wouldn’t the reaction to Trayvon Martin’s killing have been … different?

But knowing there is racial bias and doing something about it are two different things.  In North Carolina, something is being done.