The People’s Forum
P.O. Box 191
Raleigh, NC 27602
Killing In the Name Of . .
On July 27, 2015, the state Senate approved the “Restoring Proper Justice Act,” a bill banning access to information about the chemical cocktail used to execute death row prisoners. It also removes the requirement for doctors to be present during an execution, instead allowing other medical personnel to assist in the administration of the lethal injection.
The bill is designed to restart the death penalty in North Carolina after a nine year hiatus, cutting through the dissent of citizens who oppose capital punishment and ignoring the facts. Rather than listen to reason, legislators such as NC House Rep. Leo Daughtry push to resume a fundamentally flawed punishment that has no room for error.
Over the course of my sixteen years incarcerated on death row, thirty-two men have been executed. Eight innocent men have been exonerated. Over a hundred others had their sentence or conviction overturned and reduced – a reversal rate of 71%.
By now the public should be well aware of the many flaws attached to capital punishment in North Carolina: prosecutorial misconduct, police misconduct, grossly ineffective defense counsel, racially biased juries, racially disproportionate juries, hidden or lost exculpatory evidence, poorly collected and analyzed DNA evidence, coerced and forged confessions, coerced witnesses, jailhouse snitch testimony for sentence cuts and more.
It has been routinely demonstrated the death penalty does not reduce violent crime, dissuade would-be killers, or otherwise impact murder rates. It’s an overpriced, outdated excuse for lawmakers to wield excessive force on incapacitated criminals – most of whom have served at least two decades in prison. Revenge killing? More like a bunch of sharks feeding on defenseless swimmers.
The shark can’t help what it is. As Rep. Daughtry said in an interview in front of cameras, “We don’t carry out the law, we make it.” In other words, the facts don’t matter to him or a majority of the legislators in the state House and Senate. They just want to execute somebody. Since this is the case what makes North Carolinians believe the facts will ever matter to lawmakers?
If NC representatives can overlook the SBI mishandling hundreds of serology, ballistics and DNA reports, Henry McCollum being exonerated after 30 years on death row, and the arbitrary nature of a death sentence – there is little to stop them from ignoring the facts related to voter ID laws, marriage equality, inadequate teacher pay, environmental contaminants from fracking, a lack of effective care for the mentally ill, and other issues near and dear to voters.
North Carolina legislators make laws that execute potentially innocent men, killing in the name of the citizens who vote them into office. One sure way to prevent this from continuing is to vote those politicians who ignore the facts out of office. Make it known you don’t want to be represented by people who disregard life, liberty, or equal protection under the law. If, instead, you stand by and allow a bill such as the “Restoring Proper Justice Act” to resume executions in your name, don’t be surprised when the sharks turn on you.
Lyle C. May