That inmate’s protracted, painful death, and the national firestorm that has erupted in its wake, provide a preview of what could happen in North Carolina if its current execution protocol is ever put into practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Submitted by fake consultant on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 9:44am
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.
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.
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.
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