New Death Penalty Study Finds it an Unpopular Option

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”


A recent report from an Appalachian State University professor sheds light on the death penalty in North Carolina. Government and judicial studies professor Matthew Robinson published the report in June. In the report, professor Robinson examines data to help determine whether the state should continue to maintain the death penalty policy. Under state law, a person can be sentenced to death if convicted of a first-degree murder and meet at least one of a list of aggravating circumstances. When someone is sentenced to the death penalty they will wait in prison until their execution.


prison-at-robben-island-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-300x225Capital Punishment in North Carolina


North Carolina took over responsibility for state execution of criminals in 1910. Convicted offenders with death penalty sentences wait for their fate in prison on death row. The state has executed 43 people since the current statute was put in place in 1977 but the last execution was in 2006. When the death penalty is carried out it is done in accordance with the current North Carolina execution protocol. Someone convicted of a capital murder and sentenced to the death penalty will not be eligible for parole and can expect to live the rest of their life in prison. Death row convicts will be moved to a separate location in the prison once they have exhausted all paths for appeal and will wait there for the date of their execution.


Life on Death Row


North Carolina male convicts on death row reside at Central Prison while females reside at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women, both located in Raleigh. Generally, those on death row spend most of their time in their cells or adjacent dayroom. They are allowed an hour a day for showering and exercising. Convicts may have limited jobs within the institution. Officers are always watching death row inmates and accompany them whenever they leave their cells, such as to go to dinner. They are allowed one visit per week without physical contact.


Findings Published in the Recent Report


The recent report finds that the death penalty has been subject to some arbitrariness and possible bias and has resulted in some deaths of innocent people due to wrongful convictions. Findings show that the cost of the death penalty is $2 million more than other sentences. Additionally, the state could have saved about $11 million each year if they did not have the death penalty in place. The report also details racial disparity among death penalty convictions. About 54% of death penalty convictions were of black people whereas the population of the state is comprised of only 22% black residents. Black people who killed white people are 14 times more likely to get the death penalty than white people who killed black people. North Carolina has the fifth highest number of inmates on death row of the 50 states, with 136.


If you are charged with a serious offense, you need representation from an experienced criminal attorney in North Carolina. Contact our legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss the details of your case today. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today for experienced insight you can trust. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







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