The House Interim Study Committee on Capital Punishment, on which I sit, has spent the last year studying the state’s death penalty and criminal justice system, and it held its final meeting on Monday. The House panel recommended some legislation, but did not consider a proposal – a two-year moratorium – that would temporarily suspend the death penalty in
Also on Monday, I joined 43 State Senators and Representatives (including many from
On Tuesday morning, the Council of State – made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, and the elected heads of eight state government agencies – approved a revised procedure for administering executions. The council was forced into the capital punishment debate by a judge who placed three executions on hold, citing a 1909 law that requires the council to approve any change in the state’s execution procedure. State correction officials changed the protocol after the state medical board said it is unethical for doctors to participate in executions and threatened to discipline any that did.
The new protocol now goes back before Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens, and will probably be taken up by the General Assembly. Attorney General Roy Cooper has also indicated that he would try to negotiate with the state medical board before returning to Stephens’ court.