Public safety officials used to be among the death penalty’s staunchest supporters. Now, some are beginning to speak up about the punishment’s unfairness, inefficiency, and failure to improve public safety. In a new video from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a retired police chief and a former N.C. prison warden who participated in 14 executions both say they believe the death penalty does nothing to keep our society safe. The video comes just as a Wake County jury rejected the death penalty for the seventh time in a row.
Today is a somber anniversary in North Carolina. The last execution carried out in our state was on this day 10 years ago. We didn’t know it then, but that day marked a dividing line in North Carolina’s history. Before, North Carolina had one of the most active death chambers in the nation. After, we became the only state in the South to put executions on hold.
Even the death penalty’s traditional supporters — law enforcement, prosecutors, and prison officials — are starting to change their minds about the need for the ultimate punishment. A new group of public safety officials has come together from across the nation to express serious concerns about the death penalty, and a former North Carolina police chief is one of its leaders.
A new study exposes NC’s death penalty as an expensive exercise in futility. Among the findings: 74 percent of death sentences handed down in the past three decades have been overturned because of substantial errors.
Yet another sign of how attitudes toward the death penalty are changing… Recently, the Asheville Citizen-Times asked its readers a simple question: Do you support a death penalty moratorium? The answer was a landslide: Yes!
Nationally, many studies have shown that the death penalty does nothing to deter crime. But the best evidence in North Carolina is the fact that our state has gotten safer since we stopped using the death penalty. Since 2007, when N.C. stopped executing prisoners, the murder rate has gone steadily down.
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.
Last week, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina’s murder rate declined 3.8 percent in 2012. These latest numbers continued the trend of declining homicide rates — and proved once again that there is no link between the death penalty and public safety.