capital punishment

NC's Death Row a legacy of past mistakes

And every single one of these cases needs a thorough review:

With 142 inmates waiting to die, North Carolina has the sixth largest death row in the country. But a report released Tuesday says most of the prisoners would not be awaiting execution if their cases were investigated and tried today.

In “Unequal Justice: How obsolete laws and unfair trial created North Carolina’s outsized Death Row,” the Center for Death Row Litigation in Durham says the state’s death row is stuck in time while the views of capital punishment continue to evolve. “They are prisoners of a state that has moved on, but refuses to reckon with its past,” the report says. “Today, the death penalty is seen as a tool to be used sparingly. Instead of a bludgeon to be wielded in virtually every first-degree murder case.”

With all the political issues confronting us these days, people might be prone to back-burner this one based on two flawed assumptions: 1) They are in no danger of being executed due to the de facto moratorium, or 2) They would still be incarcerated somewhere else anyway. As to that first thing, the term "de facto" should be enough to demonstrate that fallacy. New technology and/or a shift in opinion could get the execution machine rolling again. As far as the second assumption is concerned, these factors definitely come into play:

N.C. prosecutor who sent 5 to death row: It’s time to end death penalty

Twenty five years ago, as an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County, Vince Rabil helped put Blanche Taylor Moore on death row. Today, Rabil says it is time to end the death penalty and calls Moore — a frail 82-year-old still sitting on death row — “a living monument to the failure of a vanishing legal remedy.”

The great big money machine of death

The report comes on the heels of the exoneration of Henry McCollum, North Carolina’s longest serving death row inmate. It exposes another facet of a capital punishment system that targets innocent people with the death penalty. Considering that only 40 people have been executed in North Carolina in the time period the report covers, more people have faced the death penalty and not been convicted of a crime than have been executed in North Carolina.”

NC needs to take note: Conservative Nebraska repeals death penalty

When conservative lawmakers in red state Nebraska recognize the death penalty has no place in modern society, the writing is on the wall - capital punishment is on borrowed time.

As today's editorial in the Charlotte Observer notes, Nebraska is arguably more conservative than Texas - and certainly more red than North Carolina.

Nebraska poised to be next state to walk away from the death penalty

You know the death penalty is on its last gasp when one of the most heavily Republican states in the nation votes to repeal it.

That's what happened this week in Nebraska a the unicameral legislature voted 32-15 to abandon the death penalty in the state.

Anonymous complaints filed against Racial Justice Act attorneys

When saving a human life gets you into trouble with the Bar:

Gretchen Engel, director of the Durham-based Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and Cassandra Stubbs, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project, were among a team of attorneys who used the short-lived law to convert a North Carolina death row inmate’s sentence in 2012 to life without possibility for parole.

Now the attorneys face possible punishment from the N.C. State Bar. Some legal analysts have characterized the allegations of wrongdoing as so minor and “questionable” that they think politics could be at play. It is unclear who filed the complaints against the attorneys. That’s not part of the public record.

Since this isn't a criminal probe, I realize the 6th Amendment doesn't apply. But an accusation that can ruin somebody's career deserves more disclosure than this. There's also a huge dose of irony accompanying these complaints: Not only were African-Americans disproportionately removed from the juries, the mystery complainants are angry the rejected black jury candidates were allowed to speak about it:

Subscribe to RSS - capital punishment