Your letters, June 30

June 30, 2013 

Turning our backs

On June 19 Gov. Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 306, repealing the historic Racial Justice Act. The Act allowed death-row inmates to appeal their sentences and receive life in prison without parole if they could show evidence that racial bias was a factor in their sentence.

The Racial Justice Act brought to light undeniable proof that North Carolina’s death penalty system is plagued by racial bias. By repealing this law barely four years into its existence, North Carolina’s leadership has willfully turned its back on widespread evidence of systemic racial bias that needs to be addressed – not ignored. Even those who support the death penalty should agree that capital sentences must be handed down impartially and without bias. Sadly, North Carolina’s lawmakers have just undone the best tool our state had to achieve that goal.

In the first case ever tried under the RJA, Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks commuted the sentence of death-row prisoner Marcus Robinson to life in prison without the possibility of parole after finding that the defendant “introduced a wealth of evidence showing the persistent, pervasive, and distorting role of race in jury selection throughout North Carolina. The evidence, largely unrebutted by the state, requires relief in his case and should serve as a clear signal of the need for reform in capital jury selection proceedings in the future."

The heart of the statistical evidence presented in the Robinson case from a comprehensive study by researchers from Michigan State University that showed that state prosecutors in North Carolina were significantly more likely to strike potential jurors who were African-American. In a related study, the researchers found that defendants are much more likely to be sentenced to death if the victim is white than if the victim is black.

On Dec. 13, 2012, three more state death-row inmates were resentenced to life in prison without parole after a judge found that racial discrimination played a key role in securing their sentences. The ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project helped represent all three inmates.

Sarah Preston

Policy director

American Civil Liberties Union of N.C.

Been there and back

The dictionary describes obese as excessively fat. As one who has been there and come back to my best weight I can testify that it is possible to lose the weight you gain. It is even possible to keep from gaining it in the first place.

Granted some people are predisposed to be stouter than others. But they do not have to be fat. One branch of my family tree is stout and big boned – but not overweight. The key is in what we eat and how we move around – or not Must we make everything that may offend a portion of the populace a disease to make them feel better about their weakness? It is a weakness that they refuse to deal with because it’s too hard to deny themselves of what they love.

Want to feel good about yourself? Deny yourself something that puts your weight and cholesterol over the top.

When you get your weight back to where it’s supposed to be you can enjoy whatever you want to eat – just don’t eat a LOT of it.

Get a life. What you eat now determines how well your later years will go.

Judy Stewart

Cedar Point

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