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Bill Advances That Would Strip Racial Justice Act

A bill that would strip away much of the state's landmark Racial Justice Act passed a state House panel today.

Jessica Jones: The bill would narrow the use of statistics that death row inmates can use to persuade judges that racial bias influenced their sentences. The Racial Justice Act, passed in 2009, allows inmates to use statewide statistics to show bias and appeal their sentences. But yesterday's bill would restrict the use of statistics to the county or prosecutorial district where the death sentence was imposed. It also limits the time frame of the statistics that inmates can use. The bill's Republican sponsors have complained that too many death row inmates are taking advantage of the Racial Justice Act to appeal their sentences. They say this measure will help individualize each case. But opponents of the measure say it's a step backwards from the Racial Justice Act's aim to remove racial discrimination from the state justice system.

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