No Man Should Be Executed For the Color of His Skin: A Powerful Statement by Rep. Bill Faison to Veto the SB9

Just a few hours ago, Rep. Bill Faison from Orange County released the following statement, calling on Governor Beverly Perdue to veto SB 9.  Here are his powerful words:

We are a nation and a people of laws. Our laws and procedures keep both the government and

powerful people from running over us as individuals. I have worked hard in the Legislature to

protect people. In contests between rich and powerful businesses and people, I always choose

people. In contests between  the power of governments and individual rights, I always choose

individuals. Our laws are our shield and protection and the heart of those laws are the steps

required before any penalties can be imposed.

It is hard to imagine anyone saying  it is ‘ok’ to impose a ‘death penalty’ rather than ‘life in

prison without benefit of parole’ just because of someone’s race, no matter what the race may

be.  It is worth remembering that 72 percent of North Carolinians support life in prison without

the possibility of parole as the most appropriate punishment for first degree murder according

to an Elon University poll conducted in 2009.

Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law making  it clear that race cannot be a factor in

imposing the death penalty. More than two thirds of North Carolinians support what this law

does according to Public Policy Polling.  The hurdles to proving race as a factor are tough to

meet, and the same trial judges who impose death sentences hear the evidence. The steps for

proof allow consideration of testimony from prosecutors, law enforcement officers, jurors,

lawyers and other members of the criminal justice system as well as statistical evidence. The

judge is searching for the truth.  Reliable  information  helps the judge reach a decision.

Sometimes that truth lies in the cold hard mathematical numbers, but no matter where the

truth lies, it should be on the table. Remember, even if race is found to be a factor, then the

Sentence becomes life in prison without the possibility of parole.                                            –

-1-This law, The Racial Justice Act, was led by  NC House by Reps.  Larry  Womble and  Earline

Parmon, and  Senator Floyd McKissick. I co-sponsored the bill in the House and shepherded it

through the committee I chaired, Ways and Means. On the floor of the House, I argued along

with others for its passage, saying, “no man should be executed for the color of his skin.” The

bill passed the House on a party line vote. On final reading, all voting Democrats but one voted

for it and all voting Republicans voted against it. Within five days of being presented to the

Governor, I stood with the Acts’ principle sponsors and many of my colleagues in the Old House

Chamber in the Capital as the  Governor signed the bill in a very public ceremony.  North

Carolina was the second state to pass landmark Racial Justice legislation.

The Republicans continue focusing on a radical social agenda rather than focusing on  the

State’s  high rate of  unemployment and the economy. Now, they have repealed the Racial

Justice Act in a rushed, post-Thanksgiving mini session of the General Assembly that cost the NC

taxpayers $150,000. Meanwhile, they do not have any meaningful  plans for dealing with the

economic problems and the unemployment crisis that we all face. The Republicans’ focus on a

radical  social agenda is sacrificing our children’s education and their future. The Republicans

have cut jobs for teachers and teachers’ aides. They have cut school funding, dropping us to

49th nationally in per pupil spending. Education is the escalator to success and they are trying to

unplug the escalator. They have even gone after women, treating them as if neither they nor

their doctors have enough sense to do what is needed to provide for their  personal medical

care. They are wasting over a million dollars of our money on “do-nothing” legislative sessions

and constitutional amendments that do nothing to change the existing law.

African Americans have been hit harder by the Great Recession than folks in general. The

jobless rate among African Americans is about twice that of the rest of the State. Moreover, the

loss of wealth in the recession hit African Americans three times harder that other folks. Rather

than looking for ways to help the African American community recover the Republicans are

focused on issues that promote racial divide rather than racial unity. We are one people. We

are Americans and we are North Carolinians. This is not the way we treat each other and not

the way we ought to be treating each other.  

The Governor signed the Racial Justice Act into law in a  public ceremony within five  of its

passage. The radical Republican repeal of the Act was presented to the Governor on November

29.  Almost two weeks have passed and  the Governor has not vetoed this divisive, misguided

legislation. I call on the Governor to veto this bill now. I call on the Republican Leadership in the

General Assembly to set aside their radical social agenda and go to work on the economic and

educational issues that matter to all of us.

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

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