NC Death Penalty Needs Reform

by TChris

The Charlotte Observer today praises North Carolina legislators who want to reform the state's administration of the death penalty.

North Carolina's criminal justice system makes too many mistakes. The state has convicted the wrong person for murder on several occasions. Unless the legislature finds out why and corrects the problem, it's only a matter of time before it executes an innocent person. Lawmakers must not allow this to happen.

The risk of executing the innocent isn't the only flaw in the state's administration of the death penalty. While ending the death penalty is the only way to be certain that the government is not killing an innocent prisoner, the need to make fundamental improvements to the system -- even if punishment by death isn't abolished -- is obvious.

Independent groups, including The Charlotte Observer, have conducted studies that identified alarming trends. Prosecutors in some judicial districts pursue the death penalty more often than in others. Poor defendants often get inadequate representation that increases their chances of getting the death penalty. Death sentences are handed out more often when the victim is white.

Some state legislators would like to halt executions for two years while a comprehensive review of the existing system is completed.

The list includes adequacy of defendants' lawyers in all stages of capital cases; the judicial review process; any disproportionate racial impact of capital cases processing; discrimination in capital sentencing based either on the defendant's or the victim's race; prosecutorial misconduct; and the presence of innocent persons on death row.

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    Re: NC Death Penalty Needs Reform (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:40 PM EST
    As a native North Carolinian, I say it's way past time to put a moratorium on the death penalty in this state. Hopefully, partisan politics won't stand in the way of this effort much longer.