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.
It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be a capital defense attorney. To be responsible for saving the lives of people who’ve committed terrible crimes, and sometimes, to be forced to watch them die. In this video, Elizabeth Hambourger, a staff attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, explains in moving and personal terms what it’s like to do this most difficult of jobs.
Ken retired this month from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, where he earned his reputation as one of North Carolina’s most respected and visionary death penalty attorneys. Through 35 years of fighting the N.C. death penalty, Ken never lost the idealism or the passion that has driven him since his earliest days. He never stopped being surprised — and outraged — at injustice. And he never stopped plotting to outwit the machinery of death.
The law students sat quietly as defense attorney Mark Rabil described his client’s execution. Covered in a sheet with IVs trailing from his arms, the man looked at the roomful of people who would watch him die. His eyes rested on Rabil’s as he mouthed the word “No.”
The ACLU will bring Bryan Stevenson, a national expert on prejudice in the courtroom, to North Carolina in February. This year’s Frank Porter Graham Awards will shine a light on N.C.’s efforts to overcome racial and economic bias in criminal justice.
Hear the voices of people who have lost parents, children, and siblings to violence. Their stories reveal the complexity that is lost in simplistic arguments about executions bringing “closure” to victims who have felt the pain of murder.