“2015 could easily be remembered as a landmark year for America’s waning death penalty system. In May, Nebraska became the first state to legislatively repeal capital punishment in over 40 years when Republican legislators championed the effort in order to stay true to conservative principles. However, Nebraska’s success isn’t the only telling evidence that its days are numbered.”
Year-end reporting from the Death Penalty Information Center showed that executions and new death sentences in the country hit a low not seen since the 1970’s. Reporting from Harvard School of Law indicated that 33 states have either abandoned capital punishment by law or in practice.
This trend follows in North Carolina as well. Despite a number of murder trials in NC, not a single jury delivered a new death sentences in 2015. Additionally, 2015 was the 9th year in a row with no executions. At the same time, our state has seen a historic drop in the murder rate, further suggesting there is no connection between deterrence and the death penalty. Executions in our state are unlikely to resume anytime in the foreseeable future because of ongoing litigation regarding the state’s use of lethal injection and the recent ruling by the state Supreme Court regarding the NC Racial Justice Act
For over nine years, NC has had a death penalty in name only, though our state continues to expend tremendous resources to retain the policy each year. We deserve a government that runs effectively and economically. We want our criminal justice system to keep our families and communities safe. Unfortunately, when it comes to North Carolina’s use of the death penalty, a look at the past year proves the system achieves very little towards those goals.
Rather than wasting over $11 million of taxpayer dollars each year to retain a system that is falling by the wayside around the state and country, North Carolina should take the lead in the south by replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The time has come for common sense criminal justice policy that aligns with conservative values.