Thursday, June 04, 2009

[indyweek] De facto death penalty moratorium may end

by Matt Saldaña
May 13, 2009

Following a 4-3 decision by the N.C. Supreme Court, North Carolina is one step closer to ending a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, and supporters of capital punishment are clamoring for the proverbial guillotine to drop. But before the state can execute its 163 inmates on death row, it must first confront several legal and legislative challenges to the practice.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, announced last week that the "last significant hurdle has now been resolved" to resume executions and urged lawmakers to vote down any further death-penalty reforms.

"We really don't need any further legislative action," he said in an interview. "We've had the death penalty in our laws for the last 30 years, under what the Supreme Court says is constitutional procedures."

Yet activists and lawmakers say the death penalty is deeply flawed, and they support a host of bills that would protect defendants from being sentenced to death on the basis of race or for crimes they committed while suffering from a serious mental disability.

[View the entire article at the Independent Weekly.]