“A good law” with bad results

Wilmington StarNews editorialists claim that the North Carolina Racial Justice Act passed in 2009 “seeks to ensure that the death penalty is imposed equitably, without regard to race.” To the contrary, this law ensures that race is a factor. This “tool” puts another legal ploy into the bag of advocates’ tricks used to stymie, and eventually stop, the death penalty.(link)

This editorial accuses Republicans of leading an effort to “gut” the law because after it was passed “most death-row inmates appealed their sentences.” Of course they did—actions have consequences. And editors imply that Republicans don’t want justice for black people. But that’s politics. Our discussion here is about justice and the results of ill-conceived laws.

Some criminals commit crimes so gruesome and evil that they deserve to die. Ask the victim’s families about that. Read the article in the StarNews, published the same day as the above linked editorial, about Lynette Duncan who lived for 36 years remembering that horrible night when two murderously evil men killed her father and her sister, and wounded her mother.(link)

Our American legal system usually favors the accused—a good thing because we don’t want innocent people wrongly convicted. However, in my opinion, the system provides even convicted killers every possible chance. As long as they live, access to public attorneys, libraries and “justice” advocates allows them hope to a get-out-of-death-free card. Unfortunately, it happens that most of those on death-row are black. In the minds of race-hustlers, statistics replace evidence to presume deliberate bias.

States with death penalty justice, such as North Carolina, essentially nullify this sentence, ironically by injustice—killers and their supporters are allowed to abuse the system with legal methods to thwart justice. For example, allowing “frivolous appeals” ad infinitum. Killers receive care and codling while the grime-reaper waits, unable to conclude justice for families of victims.

The people of North Carolina agree that some criminals deserve final judgment: forfeiture of life. It’s not revenge. Justice means that punishment for law breakers should fit the crime—that continuum fairly includes the death sentence; swift and sure. It defines justice for unbelievably heinous murderers. It’s not unreasonable—police regularly execute people who even appear to be threatening with a “deadly” weapon. Few justice advocates rail against this action (to be fair, I think the editors have spoken out on some of these cases here in Wilmington).

However, editors use a weak argument to support skewing justice in death penalty cases. They write, evidence from “several surveys showed that the race of the victim was the most telling indicator” in imposing the death penalty. The “victim”? Since when do we refer to convicted killers as “victims”?

Editors also cite a study, involving North Carolina, claiming that prosecutors have a “tendency” to use no-excuse challenges to dismiss black people called for jury duty “at a far higher rate” than white people. Where have we heard this rationale used to “prove” racial bias?—almost every time a social issue comes up involving blacks. Yet, they are included among several “protected” (favored) groups in line for special treatment and benefits because of superficial features; “content of character” has little meaning these days.

Typically, editors also cite an “extreme case” of someone cleared of a murder—because he was in jail “at the time.” If there is no justice for those on death-row how was he cleared?

I agree with North Carolina State Sen. Thom Goolsby. The General Assembly should disallow convicted and judged killers another “chance to prove that race played a role in their death sentence.” They’ve had plenty of chances. Proving racial bias leads justice on a subjective fool’s errand and weakens the law. After arrest, trial, conviction, multiple appeals over years and expensive public care it’s time that these evil-doers face the consequences of their hideous inhuman crimes.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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