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UPDATED: In response to a comment from a reader, we’ve removed the quotation marks around the word minister that appeared in the original headline of this post. We have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of Rev. Pittman’s credentials — just his very troubling beliefs.

Lost somewhat in the shuffle of the hubbub surrounding Governor Perdue’s announcement yesterday was the story regarding State Representative Larry Pittman. Pittman, who is apparently also - amazingly enough - a minister, said the following in an email to all of his fellow members of the House regarding the controversial letter of a mentally ill death row inmate: Read More

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Kathy Hembree Ledbetter, sister of death row inmate Danny Hembree released a statement today about here brother’s controversial letter  to The Gaston Gazette, which has been quoted extensively in media outlets around the state. Let’s hope people listen to her simple, plainspoken and heartfelt words. 

I’m so very sorry for any hurt or anger that was caused by my brother Danny Hembree’s letter to The Gaston Gazette. He is a very depressed man and in his hopelessness, he lashed out. I am sharing a letter (attached) he wrote recently to me in order to try to reveal the truth about his mental and emotional state which was brought out at his trial. He has had severe mental illness for over 35 years of his 50 years of life.  He is not happy, he is not comfortable and he is not well. He is being punished for his crimes and he is in a bad place. I feel deeply for the families who have been affected by his actions, actions that were motivated by mental illness.

 Kathy Hembree Ledbetter

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NPR had a national story this morning that comports with the situation here in North Carolina entitled “Death sentences drop to historic lows in 2011.”

Of course, given this reality, we should have seen a big bump in homicides in light the death penalty’s big “deterrent effect.”

Right??

Uh, not so fast my friend.

It turns out the murder rate in the United States has been dropping right along with the use of the death penalty and is now lower than at any time since the early 1960′s. It’s about half the rate it was less than 20 years ago when the death machine was going full tilt.

 

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When it comes to the rights of North Carolina prison inmates, few if anyone knows more than the lawyers at North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services. Today’s the group’s executive director, Mary Pollard, sent a letter to Governor Perdue debunking the notion promoted by some prosecutors that some inmates who had their death sentences overturned by the application of the Racial Justice Act could somehow end up out on the street (the Act mandates that the sentences of such individuals be converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole).

According to Pollard:

“The possibility that a death row inmate might become parole-eligible as a result of the Racial Justice Act  should not be of concern to you as you make your decision on whether to veto the legislative repeal of the Act.”

Click here to read Pollard’s letter.