"Death penalty an option that's lived too long," is the title of Steve Ford's editorial column from the Sunday edition of the Raleigh News & Observer. He's the editorial page editor.
These are the murderers, 155 of them, declared by juries to have committed deeds so foul that no punishment short of losing their own lives will suffice. So they languish in their miserably monotonous routines until finally comes the hour of their doom.
Unless, that is, an appeal brings a sentence converted to life in prison without parole, perhaps even a new trial in which the state again would be forced to prove the defendant’s guilt or let him go.
Or unless, as happens to be the case in North Carolina, the death penalty itself falls into disuse – to the point where, as The N&O’s Anne Blythe reported the other day, no executions have occurred for the past six years and where, in 2012, no one has been or will be sent to death row at all.
To me, this is progress. One way to gauge that progress involves a case that has stuck in my mind ever since I wrote about it in 1995.
Phillip Lee Ingle was 31 that September when he was given a lethal injection in the weirdly shaped little room that is the Central Prison death chamber.
He had been found guilty and duly sentenced by juries in Rutherford and Gaston counties in the fatal beatings of two elderly couples in separate incidents. One problem: The man appears to have been sick in the head.
First-degree murder these days is likely to bring a sentence that didn’t used to be available – life in prison without parole. It would make good sense if Gov. Beverly Perdue, before she leaves office in a few weeks, were to commute the sentences of those 155 prisoners now on death row. They, too, would be locked up for the rest of their lives.
Such a move would acknowledge shifts in public opinion and a greater sensitivity to the justice system’s imperfections. It would spare public resources while affirming the principle that violent criminals must pay heavily. And it would bring honor to Perdue for having stood against a punishment that will be a blight on the state’s justice system so long as it remains an option.
The Southern Pines Pilot publishes the OpEd, "Is the Death Penalty Conservative?" It's by Robert M. Levy, the Moore County Republican Party chair.
My reverence for life is as unshakable as any conservative who "believes with perfect faith" that life begins at conception.
But what about death?
How can I fight for the sanctity of life while I condone the premature death of even the most evil among us?
While I may be part of a small minority in our Republican Party, I, too, "believe with perfect faith" that there is a blanket of life which ought to surround all human beings from conception to a natural conclusion. This means that just as I oppose the killing of the unborn, I must also oppose the killing of those already born when society takes revenge in the form of a death penalty.
Yet, as a conservative and constitutional originalist, I do not base my opposition to death upon religion alone. It would be just as wrong to establish my religious beliefs as the "law of the land" as it would be to forbid the free exercise of those whose religion differs from mine.
No, my opposition to death is based on more practical conservative principles.
I believe in law and order. The most heinous crimes deserve the toughest penalties. And the death penalty is not nearly as punishing as a life condemned to a cramped concrete cell 20 hours per day.
Earlier coverage from North Carolina begins at the link.