capital punishment

The verdict is in: Race still decides juries in N.C.

The Racial Justice Act went to the Supreme Court this week. Now, the state’s highest court must decide how North Carolina should deal with troubling revelations of racial bias in capital trials.

The oral arguments Monday were about four defendants who have been resentenced to life in prison without parole after a Superior Court judge found “a wealth of evidence showing the persistent, pervasive, and distorting role of race in jury selection throughout North Carolina,” as well as in their individual cases.

However, the larger issue is this: As a result of the Racial Justice Act, a comprehensive study found that African-Americans are being systematically denied the right to serve on capital juries. A qualified black juror in North Carolina is more than twice as likely as a white juror to be removed with a peremptory strike.

Disabled still face execution in N.C.

Disabled still face execution in N.C.
March 11, 2014 By Kristin Collins


Thomas Larry (pictured above) has mental retardation, but remains on death row because of one IQ score.

Call for end to death penalty grows in N.C.

As 2014 begins, North Carolina is having serious doubts about its archaic capital punishment system. Both of the state’s major newspapers — the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News & Observer — are calling for an end to the death penalty.

The News & Observer editorial had this to say, in response to the news that North Carolina juries have imposed only one death sentence in the past two years:

Execute retarded people, especially if they're black?

In case you missed the memo, here's the plan. First we force pregnant women to have babies, no matter what. And if those babies turn out to be so mentally incompetent that they commit murder, we simply , execute their dumb asses with lethal injections. It all suddenly makes sense.

What I learned at my arrest at Troy Davis' execution

By Stephen Dear, cross-posted from Facing South. Originally posted at Huffington Post.

A few minutes before Troy Davis was scheduled to be poisoned to death in Jackson, Ga., on Sept. 24, I made the sign of the cross, took a deep breath and, with my friend Kurt, calmly stopped traffic and walked across the street into a phalanx of heavily armed police and SWAT officers at the gates of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. We were surrounded.

"I am here to stop the execution of Troy Davis," I said.

Is NC about to resume executions?

NC Supreme Court rules in favor of the Council of State:

The N.C. Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday that essentially gives the Council of State, the 10 statewide elected officials, authority to continue setting execution protocol for death row inmates without meeting publicly.

Whether or not this decision will impact the defacto moratorium on institutional wetwork state-sponsored executions is debatable (the N&O reporter thinks not). But those who watch the courts know: When there are multiple suits on a specific subject, and one of them is decided (zaftig pdf), the others tend to move in that same direction.

On Protecting The Innocent, Or, Is There A Death Penalty Compromise?

I don’t feel very good about this country this morning, and as so many of us are I’m thinking of how Troy Davis was hustled off this mortal coil by the State of Georgia without a lot of thought of what it means to execute the innocent.

And given the choice, I’d rather see us abandon the death penalty altogether, for reasons that must, at this moment, seem self-evident; that said, it’s my suspicion that a lot of states are not going to be in any hurry to abandon their death penalties anytime soon now that they know the Supreme Court will allow the innocent to be murdered.

So what if there was a way to create a compromise that balanced the absolute need to protect the innocent with the feeling among many Americans that, for some crimes, we absolutely have to impose the death penalty?

Considering the circumstances, it’s not going to be an easy subject, but let’s give it a try, and see what we can do.

Put the death penalty itself on trial

And it would collapse under the preponderance of evidence:

Robinson analyzed years of data about the death penalty, which he said costs millions of dollars annually and capital murder cases are nearly four times more expensive than non-capital cases. He said seven people have been exonerated and freed from North Carolina's death row since the early 1970s.

If the Republicans really want to cut wasteful programs, this should be at the top of their list. But first they'd have to join us here in the 21st Century.

Racial Justice Act to be tested in court

And possibly in the Legislature, as well:

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill will challenge the Racial Justice Act on behalf of the state as unconstitutionally broad and vague. O'Neill has said he thinks the law was created to do away with the death penalty.

The new Republican-led legislature also opposes the Racial Justice Act, and GOP leaders have said they might attempt to repeal it during this year's session.

Don't tell, just ask: Misleading Civitas poll claims huge death penalty support

The Civitas Institute, a libertarian group based in Raleigh, has released a new poll purporting to show that support for the death penalty in North Carolina has increased, and that voters support commencing executions immediately. What the poll actually shows is that Civitas is not above misleading voters to get the results it wants.

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