North Carolina can do better for families of homicide victims and all citizens than restarting executions. We can do better to restore confidence in our judicial process than removing a reform that is working. We need a serious conversation that leads to smart-on-crime solutions that better prevent violence, address the harms created by violence, help families heal, and build safer communities. Legislation to repeal the NC Racial Justice Act and to restart executions is a distraction from the serious conversation and action that is needed.
The NC Racial Justice Act has helped to expose, correct and prevent race discrimination in death sentencing. While at times painful and inconvenient, the treatment is working and needs to be allowed to continue to work. Confidence in our criminal justice system is not aided by removing a reform that is working and correcting flaws in the system.
Numerous murder victim family members worked in support of the NC Racial Justice Act over the past several years because they believe it helps North Carolina provide a higher quality of justice – a justice not tainted by intentional or unintentional bias. All lives matter, regardless of race. We deserve a judicial system that values all lives and treats all persons fairly regardless of any individual’s race.
Too much time, talent and treasure is diverted to the very few cases that ever result in a death sentence. Meanwhile, thousands of murder victim family members in our state go without their most pressing and basic needs even being considered. North Carolina would do better to direct more resources to help law enforcement solve unsolved murders and bring more offenders to justice. We better serve victims’ families by making counseling more accessible, providing advocates who work for victims to keep them informed about investigations and judicial proceedings, and expanding financial compensation to help them with burial costs and work-time lost due to the murder.
Executions should not be resumed unless its proponents can demonstrate that it is the best way to make us safe, is the best way to address the needs of the thousands of murder victim family members across our state, and can be done without racial bias and without the risk of executing an innocent person.