After 12 years without an execution, many people believe the North Carolina death penalty is dead. That might be true — if it weren’t for the more than 140 people still on death row. A new report shows that, by today’s standards, most of them shouldn’t be there.
A little-known aspect of the death penalty is its impact on jurors who must make life-and-death decisions without any of their usual support networks. For jurors, seeking trusted advice and doing independent research is an understandable impulse — but it’s also against the law.
Prosecutors might tell you they need the death penalty to punish the “worst of the worst.” But in practice, that’s not how the death penalty is used in North Carolina. Our state spends millions each year to pursue death sentences that are arbitrary and unnecessary, and uses the threat of death as a negotiation tactic to pressure defendants to accept plea bargains — sometimes putting innocent lives on the line.
Edmisten says death penalty is as arbitrary as “Russian roulette.” His comments come two weeks after Rep. Jon Hardister became the first N.C. Republican legislator to announce his opposition to the death penalty. Support for the death penalty is quickly eroding in N.C.
Yesterday, a California court confirmed what we have known in North Carolina for years: The death penalty is so dysfunctional as to be not just unconstitutional, but futile. Most of the condemned live on death row for decades, making the punishment a costly farce.
Do the legislators who want to restart executions in N.C. know what they’re suggesting? A primer on why we must find alternatives to the death penalty.
The death penalty is perceived as a widely-used criminal justice tool in the United States. However, a new report shows that the majority of death sentences and executions come from only 2 percent of U.S. counties. North Carolina follows a similar pattern.