A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
There has been a movement in North Carolina for many years now to end the death penalty. Problem is -- the people of the state don't want to end it. The majority of voters in NC believe that if one willfully takes the life of another human being he/she must be held to account by having their life taken by the state. It is simple, really: You willingly take the life of another - you forfeit your own life. 'Nuff said, right? Well, apparently not -- at least for the liberal left.
Of course, we Tar Heels still insist on a trial -- and a finding of guilty by a jury -- before we hustle them off to the gas chamber or a sterile room with a cot, an IV bag, and a needle. Heck, a NC jury even has the discretion of recommending life without parole rather than death.
Those who oppose the death penalty have tried all sorts of tactics to convince Tar Heels that the state should give up its death penalty. But every time the people of the state have a chance to vote on it, they say, loudly and clearly, thanks, but no thanks, we're keeping the death penalty.
The movement to rid the state of capital punishment is, of course, led by the political left. You know, they of the liberal guilt.
I have often felt the liberals would not feel nearly so guilty if they'd just stop trying to help those who don't want their help and stop inflicting all the pain they cause by their misguided efforts. But nooo! They just keep insisting that I am wrong -- and I NEED their help. It often reminds me of the story (or parable) of the young man who insists on helping the little old lady across the street, against all her protestations. Only after they have safely navigated the street crossing, the aforementioned little old lady FINALLY gets to explain that she had not wanted to cross the cussed street in the first place!
So now, the political left in NC passed something called the Racial Justice Act. Under its provisions convicted killers on NC's death row can have their cases reviewed by a judge who will be looking for racial bias in the original trial. The state has a chance to rebut, of course, but and if the judge finds there was "substantial" influence on the death row inmate's case due to racial bias, that inmate's sentence will be converted from death -- to life in prison -- with no hope, ever, of parole.
The minute the law went into effect nearly every prisoner on NC's death row rushed to file for a review of their cases. Over 150 death row inmates lined up. Why not? They have nothing to lose by filing -- and their lives to lose, for sure, if they don't.
Now, here is one of the reasons republicans/conservatives hate this law: The law now allows the reviewing judges to consider statistical analysis of cases showing race MUST have been a factor in prosecution decisions -- even though not a single person/witness testifies that bias played any role in a specific case.
Can you see why we NC conservatives believe this law has one aim -- and that is to permanently seal the death chamber and vacate death row in North Carolina?
Republicans now control both houses of the NC General Assembly, the state legislature (The first time in over a hundred and fifty years!). The Governor, Bev Perdue, is a democrat and she is (wisely) not running for reelection.
Just days ago, the republican State House passed a bill that would strip much of the Racial Justice Act, which was, of course, introduced, passed, and signed into law by a democrat controlled state legislature and a democrat governor back in 2009.
Republicans, and a few remaining conservative democratic lawmakers in the General Assembly, want the law GONE. They, along with a host of Tar Heels, are more than a little concerned that the current law allows inmates the use of statistics and "other evidence" in a bid to convince a judge that their death sentence was influenced by racial bias in their trial. So far, GOP efforts have been unable to get past the democratic governor's veto. The NC House Majority Leader, Paul Stam, a republican, has said the use of such statistical analysis is "completely contrary to concepts of Western justice that we consider each case on its own."
Prosecutors, across the state, hate the law. They say they are being unfairly tainted by a statistical study comparing death penalty cases across the state for two decades, which, reportedly, found that NC prosecutors dropped black jurors from juries twice as often as white jurors -- and the study is also reported to have found that a defendant is almost three times as likely to get the death sentence if at least one of the victims is white.
It does appear the prosecutors have a viable argument. In our opinion, they are all being painted with a single rather broad brush -- called racism -- and they don't like it. -- nor should they.
This is another case of the left using the word, itself, (RACISM) and the toxic accusation of racism, to bring any intelligent debate on the problem, if, indeed, there IS a problem to begin with, to a screeching halt. It is a tried and true method used extensively by the political left to end any debate and force their agenda on the remainder of us -- regardless of the consequences.
We wish the NC General Assembly God-speed and success in getting this Racial Justice Act off the law books of the Old North State and into the trash can where it belongs.
J. D. Longstreet