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January 28, 2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - For the first time in state history, a Forsyth County judge will consider whether race played a roll in sentencing two men to death row. Under the Racial Justice Act of 2009, inmates Errol Moses and Carl Moseley were permitted to present evidence in court that race was a factor. If their case is successful, their sentences will be converted to life in prison without parole.

Center for Death Penalty Litigation attorney Ken Rose explains.

"This is really the first time that persons on death row have had a chance to say race played a significant factor and, for that reason, they should instead be sentenced to life in prison without parole."

Moses and Mosely have been on death row since the 1990s. To date, 152 inmates have filed motions for hearing under the Racial Justice Act. It came about as a result of studies that found racial bias in the sentencing of North Carolina inmates to death row.

The act allows inmates to address what's very often unintentional racial bias, Rose says.

"It's very rare that a district attorney or a juror will acknowledge that they were, in fact, motivated by racial bias to sentence someone to die."

North Carolina is the second state to pass a Racial Justice Act, with Kentucky being the first.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC