WILMINGTON, NC - (WECT) - A UNCW Department Chair and author says the Racial Justice Act needs to stay. As part of Senate Bill 306, Sen. Thom Goolsby is suggesting repealing the legislation.
Dr. Kimberly Cook says that's not a good idea. While writing her book, "Life After Death Row," she interviewed over a dozen people who were exonerated from death row.
"It was very sobering, illuminating, and also inspiring," said Cook. "I was inspired by the strength and determination they had to get through that most terrifying experience and come out of it with a determination to prevail in their case against the wrongful conviction."
She says after conducting interviews and talking to people who were wrongly convicted, she believes racial bias is still present in the judicial system, which is why she says the Racial Justice Act needs to remain in North Carolina.
"When we have racial discrimination that can lead to wrongful death to people of color we have to take that seriously," said Cook.
Her book chronicles the lives of 18 people who were exonerated, including the only woman in the US to be exonerated from death row, Sabrina Butler. Cook says racial bias played a role in Butler's wrongful conviction. Adding that Butler served six years in prison for Felony Child Abuse, a capitol offence in Mississippi at the time, before she was acquitted.
"Racial bias continues to plague our justice system and we need to be vigilant about the impact of that throughout society especially in the criminal justice system," said Cook. "Maintaining the Racial Justice Act in my opinion is absolutely essential."
Butler will be speaking Wednesday night at Lumina Theatre from 7pm to 9pm.
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