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The “deterrence” argument falls apart

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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Experts debunk mythology about Racial Justice Act

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.  

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Racism and classism

In case you missed it, here is the North Carolina NAACP’s official statement on the state Senate’s remarkably offensive action this week:

A Strange Spirit: Legislative Racism, Classism and Regression Rather Than an Agenda of Legislative Progress and Prosperity for All North Carolinians

Statement by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II – President, North Carolina NAACP

 The General Assembly is required by law to follow the North Carolina Constitution which states in Article 1, Section 2 “all political power is vested in and derived from the people…and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” They should be upholding Article 1, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution, which ensures “no person shall be denied equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.” The Constitution calls us to a higher place where a “divide and conquer” strategy has no place.

Despite the noble call of our Constitution there is a strange spirit in the halls of the North Carolina General Assembly. Read more