April 20, 2024 12:25 pm
Close this search box.

National News

Racial Justice Act case could affect NC death row inmates

Credit: iStock

By Shanteya Hudson, March 8, 2024

A first-of-its-kind case in Johnston County could affect the futures of more than 100 people on death row in North Carolina. It’s the Racial Justice Act case of Hasson Bacote.

Gretchen Engel, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said that what sets this hearing apart is that it’s examining patterns and implications of racism in the death penalty for the entire state, rather than focusing solely on Bacote’s individual case.

“This is a case that will allow the court to consider an unprecedented amount of evidence related to the question of whether the death penalty is administered fairly in North Carolina, or whether race affects who sits on the juries,” she said.

Bacote was sentenced to death in 2007 for his role in a deadly robbery. Last week, Engel said, experts showed how racial disparities in jury selection disproportionately affect Black jurors across the state. This week, experts explored the history of the death penalty in North Carolina, and racism in Johnston County.

About 136 people are on death row in North Carolina; about 60% are people of color. According to the North Carolina Coalition of Alternatives to the Death Penalty, nearly half were sentenced by majority-white juries. By addressing the systemic issues that underpin capital punishment, Engel said, the evidence presented in this hearing could have far-reaching impacts.

“If the judge finds that there is discrimination across the state of North Carolina, not simply in Mr. Bacote’s case,” she said, “that could have implications for other people who are under sentence of death and residing on death row here in our state.”

After Bacote’s team presents its evidence, the state will present its case. North Carolina hasn’t executed anyone since 2006 because of legal issues surrounding lethal-injection drugs. The governor is unable to schedule executions because of ongoing litigation related to the Racial Justice Act.

This story is republished from NC Newsline under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.

Solar leases help NC farm owners up revenues, keep homestead

In the serene fields of Pendleton, North Carolina, Ajulo Othow, founder of EnerWealth Solutions, draws inspiration from her post-Katrina economic development work to establish solar installations that not only respect the landscape but offer sustainable income to local landowners. Her projects prioritize minimal disruption while maximizing benefits, reflecting a thoughtful approach to renewable energy in rural settings, and enhancing both economic and environmental resilience.

North Carolina Tenants Union seeks to level playing field in state’s tight housing market

In response to challenges faced by North Carolina tenants, including unjust evictions, unaffordable rent hikes, and poor living conditions, the North Carolina Tenants Union (NCTU) was officially launched with the aim of empowering tenants through collective action for fairer housing policies and laws. With a statewide network of local tenant unions, NCTU focuses on crucial issues such as legal representation in eviction proceedings, strengthening housing codes, and facilitating collective bargaining for lease renegotiations.

Troubled waters: DEQ proposes adding 400+ miles of streams, rivers to impaired list

Despite Bogue Sound’s serene appearance along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, it faces significant environmental threats from bacteria due to aging wastewater infrastructure and other pollution sources, prompting a proposal to list over 1,500 acres of the sound on the federal impaired waterways list for the year. This situation underscores a broader concern across the state, with over 400 miles of streams and rivers proposed to be added to this list, reflecting the ongoing challenge of balancing development and environmental preservation.