The tenth recommendation in the Civitas Institute 2010 Agenda: “20 Changes for 2010: A Primer for State Reform” focuses on ending the death penalty moratorium and carrying out jury verdicts.
The Problem: North Carolina currently has a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty and has enacted more legislative roadblocks to carrying out executions as ordered by juries.
North Carolinians go about their daily lives assuming that if a loved one is murdered in cold blood there is a chance the murderer will pay the ultimate penalty and forfeit their life. The last death penalty sentence, however, was carried out on August 18, 2006 and recent legislative and administrative actions have resulted in a moratorium on death sentences ordered by duly empowered juries of citizens.
10.) Insure justice and deterrence by restoring the death penalty.
In October 2009, 71.3 percent of NC voters in a Civitas poll said they disapproved of allowing convicted murderers to challenge a death sentence by claiming race was a factor in sentencing.
- Pass legislation that would remove the retroactive portion of the misnamed “Racial Justice Act” and immediately resume the carrying out of legally imposed death sentences.
A number of academic studies by economists, social scientists and others have shown that the death penalty deters some murders. (For information on these studies contact Civitas.) According to House Republican Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake), “Justice delayed is justice denied. In addition to the families of the victims of these 158 inmates, I believe that innocent people were victims of homicide because of this de facto moratorium.” Professors Roberto Marchesini and Dale Cloninger of the University of Houston found a 21-month court-imposed moratorium in Texas likely caused 90 additional homicides.
For those worried about possible mistakes, on average 8 to 15 years pass before executions are carried out in North Carolina. Capital cases are reviewed by an average of 47 state and federal judges, all looking at claims of error in the trial or claims of innocence. Of the 43 murderers executed since 1977, there have been no credible claims of "actual innocence." Additionally, 65 percent of those actually executed have been white, which puts a new light on the claim most were minorities.
A partial list of those who are currently being spared the death penalty:
Inmate Wallace (Mecklenburg): 9 murders / 13 rapes
Inmate Frogg (Forsyth): 6 murders
Inmate Robinson (Bladen): 6 murders
Inmate Phillips (Moore): 5 murders
Inmate Smith (Buncombe): 4 murders / 1 manslaughter
Inmate Wilkinson (Cumberland): 3 murders / 5 rapes
Inmate Lane (Wayne): 1 murder / 1 child rape
For more details on these and other murderers see this link at the Department of Corrections.