Where do the candidates stand on the death penalty?

Help me out, BlueNC, font of information that you are.

I'm looking to expand my most recent blog post.

I know that Richard Moore "believe[s] that there is Biblical evil that lives among us, and for some crimes you give up the right to be here on Earth with the rest of us," (source) and that Beverly Perdue "support[s] capital punishment as an option, but...also favor[s] the current moratorium [then] in place while constitutional issues are being studied." (source)

How do your (least) favorite candidates feel about the death penalty?


Durham DA candidate Mitch Garrell

...stated at Tuesday's forum that he will not pursue the death penalty if elected.

Perdue tries to pander

I disagree with Moore's pro-death penalty position, but at least he's honest about it.

Perdue has pretended genuine concern by stating that while she supports the death penalty, she also supports a moratorium. She wants it both ways. Her position is rank hypocrisy and a cheesey effort to convince progressives that she gives a damn about the morality of the issue. The only purpose for the moratorium is to give the movement to overturn the death penalty some traction, and she knows that. People who tell themselves that a moratorium is capable of "curing" the problems inherent in our system are kidding themselves.

The Supreme Court has recently found that lethal injection is not unconstitutional. This finding strikes a blow, to say the least, to the support for a moratorium.

You can bet you will NOT be hearing Bev Perdue say a word in opposition to the death penalty. Far from it.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Indeed, they are not so different

They both voted, twice, to approve the proposed new lethal injection protocol, so I don't anticipate any miracles from either one of them.

Once, twice, three times a linky...

I may be hopelessly naive

But I have to think that Perdue is the more open-minded of the two. I've seen her come around to more enlightened views on environmental issues as a result of getting informed by experts about some of the subtle distinctions. She's retracted some of her earlier positions on a number of issues, which I take to mean she's open to changing her mind and learning. I consider her rejection of negative advertising as part of that learning process.

Cynics will say it's just politics as usual, but I prefer to remain optimistic that people can change and evolve. In any case, if she does become governor, I'm going to work my butt off to convince her that there is simply no possibility of our racist state carrying out an even-handed administration of capital punishment. And at least I won't be fighting against the specter of Richard Moore's "biblical evil."

I'll get to work on that too.

A journalist friend of mine recently interviewed Basnight and was surprised to find him to be both enlightened and thoughtful. I don't know the guy, but if he's the key to ending the death penalty in North Carolina, I'll kiss his ass all the way to Central Prison.

Make no mistake about Basnight and Bev

Basnight is smart as hell and extremely charming. No one can turn it on like he can. I've been dazzled many times, and as well as I know him, I have no doubt that he could dazzle me again. It's kind of like the snake in the Disney cartoon version of the Jungle Book. You just find yourself being lulled --have to leave the room, the building, maybe the zip code for a while and recollect your faculties.

But he doesn't care about people being executed.

And Bev, or "Dumpling," as she is known in the halls of the General Assembly has has a long, long, long time to grow up. She's older than Richard Moore, and has had many more opportunities to show her creds than he has when it comes to policy-making. For her entire career, she has never stepped out front, never taken a risk, and never acted on anything other than her own immediate interest.

She's not interested in making changes that are going to upset any balance of power in North Carolina. In fact, that's why Marc wants her in the Governor's office. With Bev, he'll get exactly what he wants.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke


You really hate Bev Perdue. I'll have to hear that story someday.

I Twitter, Therefore I Am.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Dang, Robert

I do not hate Beverly Perdue. I honestly can't think of anyone I "hate." I don't even dislike her as a person (I don't *know* her as a person). But I've sure been observing her in the General Assembly for years, and I know she's not a progressive.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I beg to differ!

You can say it isn't hate, but from an outsider....it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

I Twitter, Therefore I Am.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

well I *hate* that you're so sure, Robert

But honestly, I don't hate the woman; Again, I don't even dislike her as a person. I don't KNOW her.

The vehemence you hear is a strong sense of indignation at the image she's getting away with. I am insulted by that. I "disrespect" it. I am also resentful of the grip that the good ole boys have on North Carolina government. It's a power clench that is going to be solidified with her election. Now THAT I really do hate.

But I don't hate Bev; I don't hate Basnight.

More to the point, I have no reason to deny what I think or feel, and have not done so here or in any other forum I participate in.

So you'd like to see all the county boards of

election flip to 2 Reps and 1 Dem? So much for electoral reform.

Just wanted you to realize a further implication of your choice.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

You got that right

Beverly Perdue is for everything, unless she's against it.

Marshall Adame is against the Death Penalty in all cases

without exception.
1. Keeping a human being caged until natural death is far greater punishment than killing that person.

2. It cannot be undone in the event of a prosecutional mistake, or misdeed (HAS HAPPENED).

3. The death penalty, as it has been applied in the United States, has been open to far too many mistakes, unequally executed, cruel and unusual, and has almost no sense of Justice to it.

If, in our deepest conscience, we believed, as a country, that the Death penalty was Good and Just, we would not carry it out in such discreet privacy. We would be executing people in public forums.

Killing another human being is a dark deed, even when sacntioned by the State.

I would like to think we had grown beyond our darkest instincts. Collective, or institutional revenge is still revenge....and that has nothering to do with justice.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

Thanks, Marshall

Solid and decent.

You are advocating for public hangings?

I'm for the death penalty, but that doesn't mean I want to watch it.

Watch it

Of course you don't want to watch it. It's oh so icky -- ewwwww. We want to shield our sensibilities from this state action. How's that for justice?

It's a pity that so many people are able to push aside the reality of what the state is doing, think of it in the abstract, and deny the barbarity of it.

And, as James said, let's go back to hanging.
It's much more interesting, lends itself to better spectacle, and will provide new material for a mini-genre within folk song. "Long Black Veil," anyone?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Barack Obama helped reform

Barack Obama helped reform the death penalty while a member of the state legislature in Illinois. From a Washington Post profile:

Five years later, Obama waded into a complex capital-punishment debate after a number of exonerations persuaded then-Gov. George Ryan (R) to empty death row.

Obama wrote in his recent memoir that he thinks the death penalty "does little to deter crime." But he supports capital punishment in cases "so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."

In proposing changes, Obama met repeatedly with officials and advocates on all sides. He nudged and cajoled colleagues fearful of being branded soft on crime, as well as death-penalty opponents worried that any reform would weaken efforts to abolish capital punishment.

Obama's signature effort was a push for mandatory taping of interrogations and confessions. It was opposed by prosecutors, police organizations and Ryan's successor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, who said it would impede investigators.

Working under the belief that no innocent defendant should end up on death row and no guilty one should go free, Obama helped get the bill approved by the Senate on a 58 to 0 vote. When Blagojevich reversed his position and signed it, Illinois became the first state to require taping by statute.

"Obviously, we didn't agree all the time, but he would always take suggestions when they were logical, and he was willing to listen to our point of view. And he offered his opinions in a lawyerly way," said Carl Hawkinson, the retired Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "When he spoke on the floor of the Senate, he spoke out of conviction. You knew that, whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him."

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

Robin Anderson's Response

The Independent asked the following question of council of state candidates:

9. As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?

Robin's Response:

I believe I am the only candidate for a Council of State office who has represented a death row inmate in a North Carolina death penalty appeal. Early in my career as a lawyer, I volunteered over 500 pro bono hours on a state appeal. I support abolishing the death penalty. Nevertheless, this is a legislative matter; however, I would continue to work towards an end to the death penalty in North Carolina.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Robin Anderson is amazing

We sat together at dinner Monday evening. She has so much energy and certainly has the passion and compassion for this job.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Dan Besse for moratorium and open ended study: see details

Dan went to a meeting over in Duplin County tonight. I nearly never stand in for Dan because we have an agreement that we don't put words in each other's mouths. In this case, Dan and two other Lt. Gov. candidates answered this question for the Progressive Democrats questionnaire, so I know what his answer is.

The questionnaire can be found over on the Raleigh News and Observer site at this link:

This is Dan's answer:

I am on public record in calling for a moratorium on executions in our state. We can no longer justify merely tweaking around the edges of the issue—for example, by debating execution of the mentally retarded, or reform of the procedures for execution. It is past time to address the fundamental questions about capital punishment, the ones which
cause too many of our leaders to duck and cover: risk of erroneous executions of the innocent, and racial bias in the
application of the death penalty.
It is time for the legislature to put executions on hold while we carefully, systematically address those issues.

During that moratorium, we must examine and address those two key matters. The first is erroneous execution of the
innocent. No matter what your position on capital punishment, we can all agree that execution of an innocent person is
morally unacceptable. Unfortunately, both judges and juries make errors. If capital punishment is to continue to remain an
option, then for its application we need a new set of evidentiary standards which would eliminate, for all practical purposes,
the possibility of execution of an individual for a crime he or she did not commit. I can see ways to approach that goal, that I
would commend for consideration by a study commission on the topic.

The second problem is racial bias in the application of capital punishment. This is a pervasive problem, and part of an issue
which continues to undermine public confidence in the basic fairness of our justice system. A careful, thorough review of
this element and how it could be addressed is needed. This issue is also tied up in questions surrounding the use of
prosecutorial discretion in determining who to charge, with what offenses, as well as the threat of the death penalty as
pressure in plea negotiations.

I would not put an artificial time deadline on the completion of these reviews. The legislature has the authority to enact a
moratorium, and would inherently retain authority to determine when and if its questions were satisfied.

I hope you'll get a good response on this. It's a very important issue.


Mr. Besse's position seems sensible except for the "open ended"

aspect. It shouldn't take forever for a group of reasonable men and women to arrive at appropriate evidence guidelines for capital punishment.

Of course, nothing will be reasonable or appropriate for those who are unalterably opposed to the death penalty. And, there will always be the chance that mistakes will be made or that justice will be contorted by unscrupulous law enforcement officials or others.

I support the death penalty. I believe if someone takes or participates in taking another person's life during the commission of a criminal act, that person ought to be eligible for execution.

If the evidence supporting the prosecution of such a criminal demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that he/she is guilty of taking a life, the death penalty should be an option. If the accused is convicted, and if the accused has a record of other crimes, particularly those involving firearms or violence or threats of violence against others, the death penalty seems appropriate to me.

It would seem, for example, that if what we seem to know about the killers of Eve Carson can be proven in court, those three men should be eligible for the death penalty. If convicted they should be executed...without appeal or delay.

It might also be reasonable for any study of our justice system to also consider why our current prison system doesn't seem to deter those who have served time from repeating their criminal acts after release...or why those who are found guilty of substantial crimes are sometimes not appropriately punished.

Stan Bozarth

Beyond a reasonable doubt

is the current standard, under which innocent men have been executed.

It isn't just a matter of "unscrupulous" law officers. It's also a matter of juries consisting of human beings, who are moved by the same thing that moves all human beings -- a desire not for "justice" so much as vengeance. We are also moved by prejudice and fear. Vengeance, prejudice and fear are not supposed to be part of our criminal justice system, but as your own immediate reaction to the death of Eve Carson demonstrated, emotions are powerful motivators.

Further, please note, the death penalty is not a deterrent. It never has been, and it isn't goign to suddenly become one.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Emotion is a factor in most people's lives, Bru...

and outrage at a brutal and senseless crime seems appropriate. I agreed with Mr. Besse. The whole process needs review and changes to ensure no innocent person is put to death.

As to the death penalty being a deterrent...I didn't suggest any such thing. It does, however, deter those who are executed from any further brutality against their fellow man.

Stan Bozarth

Clue, Stan: The depiction of Justice wearing a blindfold

is a reminder for you and me and others who notice that our system of jurisprudence discourages the use of EMOTIONS to determine outcome in a court of law. Ever hear about a judge ruling out "inflammatory" evidence? Have any notion what that's about?

Yes, emotional responses are natural. That doesn't make them helpful when weighing evidence.

That's why we don't have witnesses to a crime sitting on the jury. That's why the relatives of a victim do not sit on the jury.

You cannot prevent innocent people being put to death when you have the death penalty. You sure as hell aren't going to IMPROVE your chances of convicting only the guilty if you allow emotion or outrage to play a role in the trial.

This idea that the purpose of a moratorium is to "tweak" the system so that no more innocent people will be put to death is ridiculous. That's not what the moratorium is for, Stan. A moratorium is not going to eliminate bigotry, corruption, stupidity or ignorance. A moratorium is not going to eliminate lying or obfuscating.

You think a moratorium gives the legal beagles an opportunity to what -- pull out a toolbox and an oil can and tune up the engine of justice? Is that what you have in mind? You really think that there is some legal formula that will prevent an innocent person from being wrongly convicted and executed?

We actually have a very, very good system of justice. However, it will never be a perfect system because humans are not perfect. As long as a person is alive, you have a chance to at least attempt to rectify an unjust incarceration. But you can't un-kill someone.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

This should be printed out and displayed in every courtroom

We actually have a very, very good system of justice. However, it will never be a perfect system because humans are not perfect. As long as a person is alive, you have a chance to at least attempt to rectify an unjust incarceration. But you can't un-kill someone.

It has a much better reason for being there than the 10 Commandments.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Hi Stan! That's my phrase, not his.

I should have known better than to come up with a title. "Open ended" is MY phrase, not Dan's. Dan said:

I would not put an artificial time deadline on the completion of these reviews. The legislature has the authority to enact a
moratorium, and would inherently retain authority to determine when and if its questions were satisfied.

When I used "open ended" as a shorthand description of that, the words were and remain mine, not Dan's. Dan is at the Jefferson-Jackson Breakfast and is then going out canvassing, so I don't know if he would or could summarize his two sentences into two words.

I'm sorry I was misleading. Dan has worked on the Coastal Resources Commission and the Environmental Management Commission, and he probably has in mind some experience or concern with an artificial deadline that turned out to be unrealistic for the task, but I don't know that because he got in after midnight last night and left this morning on the fast track. (He told me he'd be gone when I waked up, and he was!)

Last night, while he was checking on a few crucial things before getting into bed, he gave me a cake he'd won at the Duplin County auction.

It turns out that, in Duplin county, candidates who want to speak either bring a cake to be auctioned off or make a contribution. Dan took a contribution, but Pat Smather's wife, Sherry, had baked a fabulous three layer chocolate cake with wonderful icing, American flags and paper dolls of Pat on top. Dan thought he'd help out and start the bidding. He brought me the cake, which came complete with a wonderful plastic cake carrier! (Great baking Sherry!) (Good luck on your 3L exams and the bar exam Zeb! I noticed that while checking the spelling of your mother's name.)

New Hanover County, Stan? Did you know Dan anytime between 1985 and 1990 when he was Chair of the CRC or a member in 93?

I clicked your name and noticed a reference to Molly Ivins, may she rest in joyful peace. Dan loved to read Molly Ivins' work, and we both still miss her hilarious rollicking way of filling us in on who was in on whose 'bidness' that should not have been. Well, and also her way of telling us who was taking care of 'bidness' that needed to be done.

With best wishes to all,



Comment posted in the wrong place.

I'm sorry!

"Biblical Evil" is just creepy.

Moore's quote is very reminiscent of the same old "eye for eye" rhetoric that has been used to justify a death penalty system that devalues the lives of minorities on both sides of the equation, and disproportionately executes those who are poor, black, and have substance abuse or mental health issues.

Unless poor, African American males are disproportionately "Biblically evil," something is terribly wrong with the system. That's why I'm glad Bev supports the moratorium on the death penalty. I agree with James that she has always shown that she has a reasoned, sincere approach to this issue, and I know that Bev certainly wouldn't let anyone be executed - even without a moratorium - if there were any shred of a chance that they were innocent.

I'm sure that's at least one of the reasons that people I respect (Harvey Gantt, especially) and all but one or two of the whole Black Legislative Caucus support Bev.

Thank you, everyone

My expanded and updated post is available here.

Beverly Perdue's actions count for a lot.

Beverly Perdue took action for suspending executions. That counts for a lot.

On April 30, 2003, the NC Senate was considering a bill for a two-year suspension of executions. The vote on an unfriendly amendment was close and it was then that Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue arrived as president of the Senate and in support of the moratorium. Sen. Marc Basnight and Sen. Tony Rand gave powerful speeches in favor of a moratorium, following on the leadership of Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, the champion of the moratorium in the Senate, and the bill passed by a strong vote.

Lt. Gov. Perdue provided leadership and set an example for others in her support for the moratorium bill, making the NC Senate the only legislative body in the American South to call for a suspension of executions. She has since publicly maintained her support for a moratorium and a thorough review of the death penalty system. North Carolina has never created a blue ribbon commission to study its death penalty system and we desperately need one.

On May 2, the State of North Carolina exonerated and released its third death row prisoner, Bo Jones, in four months. Together these men spent a combined four decades on death row. What does this say about us as a people that we allow so many innocent people to be condemned to die and that we maintain this system so corrupted by race and class and prone to error?

I support repealing the death penalty and using the funds saved to create real programs that reduce violence and assist the survivors of murder victims. Someday, some of our leading gubernatorial candidates will feel the same way. (The current governors of Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey are against the death penalty; it will happen here.)

In the least, supporting a moratorium is the sensible and responsible position for anyone seeking the governorship of North Carolina, and I am grateful that Beverly Perdue has shown her support for doing so.

On the death penalty, she is offering a difference.

(I expressly disassociate my comments here from any organization with which I am affiliated.)

Steve Dear works at www.pfadp.org. His comments on Blue NC are not necessarily endorsed by PFADP or any other organization with which he is affiliated.