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Campaign Flyer Opens Old Wounds for NC Legislator

October 22, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - A flyer that landed in mailboxes in several legislative districts across the state has sparked outrage and opened an old wound for a Davidson County politician. It reads "Meet your new neighbors," with an image of a man breaking into a house. The mailer, sent out by state Republicans, references the passage of the Racial Justice Act and claims that the law will allow death row inmates to be released from prison.

The executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Ty Hunter, says that's not true.

"The Racial Justice Act explicitly limits its release to life without parole. No one is going to be moving next door to anybody, based on the Racial Justice Act."

The law allows inmates sentenced to death in North Carolina to appeal their sentence based on possible racial discrimination. If their case is successful, the inmate is resentenced to life without parole. According to published reports in the Winston-Salem "Journal," the North Carolina Republican Party says the mailer was aimed at several Democrats up for re-election.

One of the Democrats targeted in the campaign is State Rep. Hugh Holliman, Davidson, who supported the Racial Justice Act. The flyers distributed in his district read, "Thanks to Hugh Holliman, death-row inmates could leave prison early and move in next door."

Holliman's daughter was murdered in 1985 and her killer was later executed. According to published reports, the state Republican Party says they were not aware of the murder. Hunter doesn't buy that.

"I'm astonished that people would claim they did not know about that. The tragedy in his family is well known in the legislature.

Response from Republican party leaders is that the flyers were not intended to be personal and were intended to focus on what they consider a bad bill.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC