The Center for Death Penalty Litigation just released a report about the application of the death penalty in North Carolina. I would say the report is shocking, but really it isn’t. The report found that contrary to what most death penalty supporters claim, the death penalty is mostly used as a threat in crimes with little to no evidence. It is used as a threat to get witnesses (or alleged witnesses) to confess or make up claims. It is used as a threat to obtain plea bargains. And even when charges are dropped or the accused is acquitted, they have already spent an average of 2 years in jail, bankrupt from defending themselves, and North Carolina doesn’t even remove the charges from the innocent person’s record. Very fair. Some highlights:
We pored over case files, court records and news reports, contacted attorneys, and interviewed the accused to find cases during the period from 1989 to 2015 in which a person was charged with capital murder and was eventually acquitted or had all charges related to the crimes dismissed. We identified 56 cases in which the state abused its power in seeking a death sentence, because prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty.
So only 2 per year...
We found cases in which state actors hid exculpatory evidence, relied on junk science, and pressured witnesses In several cases, there was no physical evidence and charges were based solely on the testimony of highly unreliable witnesses, such as jail inmates, co-defendants who were given lighter sentences in return for cooperation and paid informants. Reliance on such witnesses was a factor in more than 60 percent of the cases we studied.
Well that sounds promising.
The state incarcerated these people, who were never convicted of any crime, for an average of two years each. All told, the 56 defendants spent a total of more than 112 years in jail. Gregory Chapman in Duplin County served the longest jail term: nearly seven years. Those who are indicted on capital charges and later cleared are not eligible for compensation, even though many of them spend years in jail, lose their jobs, and are bankrupted by legal expenses. In addition to leaving many in financial ruin, the state does not even do these exonorees the favor of clearing their criminal histories.
Ugh...You can read the entire report http://www.wral.com/asset/news/sta…
It includes case studies that are heartbreaking. I’d encourage everyone to give it a read.