Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Legislators, Council of State Discuss the Death Penalty

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 North Carolina. I was disappointed we were not able to recommend any reforms to make the administration of the death penalty fairer, but I expect several bill to be filed in the coming weeks.

Also on Monday, I joined 43 State Senators and Representatives (including many from Guilford) in sending a letter to Governor Mike Easley requesting an immediate suspension of all executions “until we can be assured that North Carolina’s method of execution clearly meets the U.S. constitutional requirement that the punishment is not cruel and unusual”. The letter also drew attention to recent developments in other states across the country as reason for a temporary moratorium in North Carolina. Governor Jeb Bush imposed a moratorium on executions in Florida following a December 13, 2006, botched execution during which the condemned inmate clearly suffered a protracted, painful death. In addition, nine additional states – Arkansas, California, Delaware, Missouri, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee – have recently halted executions to review their lethal injection process.

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.

1 comment:

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

Book Recommendation - This book changed my views about the Death Penalty and is a heartfelt story. "Journey Toward Justice" Now on Amazon.com as Top Seller, Published by Seven Locks Press 2006 by Dennis Fritz is a memoir and John Grisham calls Compelling and Fascinating. Dennis Fritz is the real character in John's Grisham's Book The Innocent Man. The Innocent Man mostly is about his co-defendant Ronnie Williamson who was sentenced to death. Dennis Fritz who was sentenced to life behind bars and Ronnie Williamson were exonerated in 1999 after 12 desperate and tortuous years in prison, Ronnie Williamson passed away a few years later.. Thanks to The Innocence Project and Barry Scheck who were helpful in getting DNA testing needed that proved Fritz was innocent after serving 12 years in prison.. Dennis Fritz does not want only to be known as the man who was wrongly imprisoned for a murder with NO evidence against him. This story would interest everyone who has, are going to have a career in Law.
There is much more to his story never told before in his book. He says he witnessed miracles and actually heard God's voice telling him "TRUST ME". He solely relied on faith in God to make it through. This Book will make you think, This can happen to anyone of us. A Great book showing what Faith, Love and Hope can do.. .. Miracles.

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