In 2016, N.C. passed the decade mark with no executions and sentenced just one new person to death. Yet, our state continues to spend millions each year to maintain the sixth largest death row in the nation — 150 aging people, the vast majority of whom have been there for more than a decade, with no executions on the horizon.
Delaware is the 20th state to make life without parole its maximum punishment, and the eighth since 2008. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story about just how obsolete the death penalty has become. Another 11 states have not carried out an execution in at least a decade – and North Carolina is one of them.
Exonerations have risen steadily in the U.S. in recent years. Last year, 149 people across the country were exonerated, the highest on record. Five N.C. exonerees spent a total of 89 years behind bars. Yet, those who have been freed are only a “drop in the bucket.” Thousands more innocent people remain in prison.
In North Carolina, juries did not impose a single new death sentence this year. It was the second year since 2012 that no one was sent to death row. We also neared a decade without an execution. Across the country, the death penalty reached its lowest point in the modern era with just 49 new death sentences and 28 executions. Even Texas only sent two people to death row.
Just in time for Veterans Day, a sobering new report shows that North Carolina is one of many states that routinely condemns veterans to death and executes them, with little regard for the trauma they endured while serving our country. Twenty-four of North Carolina’s 148 death row inmates are military veterans. Six veterans have been executed.
What if we told you that almost every murder in N.C. is charged capitally? That cases are declared capital before police have completed thorough investigations? That the threat of death is used to bully people into pleading guilty, even though they might be innocent? These are the revelations in a new report from CDPL.
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.
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.
If you still have doubts that the death penalty is losing popularity in the United States, this new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News should eradicate them. 52 percent of Americans said they support life in prison without parole as the maximum sentence for murder.