In 2012, juries in North Carolina refused to sentence a single defendant to death, according to a report that recently appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer.
The report indicated that not only has no one been sentenced to death in the state during the year, but that no cases that could result in a death penalty are pending trial. That’s the first time the public has set something of a voluntary moratorium on the harshest of sentences in decades.
In 1977, North Carolina reinstated the death penalty after the then-current statute was declared unconstitutional. As a result, the prisoners on death row found their sentences commuted to life in prison, while members of the state legislature were sent back to the drawing board in order to reconfigure the statute in question. The law they settled upon remains the one that is used today when trying capital cases.
And, although North Carolina’s present death penalty statute has since been upheld by higher courts as constitutional, fewer and fewer juries find it to be the right solution, preferring instead the sentence of life imprisonment.
Earlier coverage from North Carolina begins at the link.