Today's Fayetteville Observer publishes the editorial, "Our View: Death penalties become artifacts of the past."
It may not take legislation to end the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina. The ultimate penalty for crime appears to be dying on its own.
As recently as the 1990s, North Carolina was sending two dozen or more to death row every year. This year, there was one: Cumberland County's own Mario Andrette McNeill, who was convicted of kidnapping and killing 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. Given that horrific crime, we couldn't imagine anything less than the death penalty.
Capitol Press Association syndicated columnist Scott Mooneyham writes, "Death penalty capriciously meted out also unjust," via the Elizabeth City Daily Advance. It's also available from the Greenville Daily Reflector.
Death penalty opponents in North Carolina, citing a national report, recently noted a continuing decline in executions nationwide.
The report, from the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, showed a 10-percent decline in executions in 2013.
North Carolina has been a part of that national trend, with no one executed here since 2006.
"North Carolina juries sentenced one person to death in 2013," is by Anne Blythe in the News & Observer.
As the Republican-led General Assembly adopted new laws this past year with hopes of lifting a de facto moratorium on executions in North Carolina, juries across the state sent only one person to death row.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 33, found guilty this spring of kidnapping, human trafficking and murdering a 5-year-old Cumberland County girl, was the only defendant in North Carolina during 2013 to be sentenced to death.
His trial in Cumberland County was one of five capital cases tried this year in which a death sentence could have been returned.
The single death penalty verdict came amid a broad pattern of decline not only in North Carolina but across the United States.
"Death penalty trials declining in NC," is AP coverage, via the Asheville Citizen-Times.
North Carolina has averaged fewer than three death sentences a year over the past decade. That compares with the 1990s, when there were more than two dozen people often were sent to death row in a single year.
North Carolina had no executions this year. A series of lawsuits filed in 2006 challenged the fairness of executions.
The state has 155 inmates on death row, but most have challenges pending.
The North Carolina News Network posts, "Use Of Death Penalty Continues Descending Trend," by Bruce Ferrell.
Nationwide, there were 39 executions in 2013 - a 10% decrease since last year - and carried out in only nine states. This year, North Carolina lawmakers made an attempt to resume executions and end inquiries about racial bias in the legal system by overturning the Racial Justice Act.
"NC should end push to revive the death penalty," is the editorial from the News & Observer edition of December 21.
In the contest to win the title of “Most Out-of-Step State,” Republicans running North Carolina’s legislature have striven to take the lead. They managed to push through a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage just before the U.S. Supreme Court said such unions were legal. And this year, the GOP made North Carolina the only state in the nation to reject an extension of federal unemployment benefits.
Now lawmakers are again at the head of the pack going the wrong way. Republican leaders are pushing to revive the state’s dormant death penalty at a time when its use is rapidly ending across the nation. Step one was repealing the Racial Justice Act as an obstacle to executions. The RJA allowed death row inmates to have their sentences changed to life without parole if a judge found evidence of racial bias in their death sentences.