A bittersweet story today in the
News and Observer is guaranteed to ratchet up debate in the gubernatorial race. Here's my take on where things stand.
McCrory: No moratorium.
In his continuing lurch toward the extremist right wing base of Jack Hawke's shrinking Republican Party in North Carolina, Myers Park Pat McCrory insists that there be no moratorium on the death penalty. Despite mountains of evidence that capital punishment is pretty much a stacked deck against poor people and blacks, McCrory stands with a straight face in front of his white Republican donors and says he will oppose ANY moratorium on the death penalty. It's all part of his plan for "safety and security," unless you happen to be a poor, black man like Glen Chapman.
Richard Moore: No moratorium.
His reasons may be different, but Richard Moore comes down in the same place as McCrory. Moore cites his time as a federal prosecutor, saying that he believes it is necessary for some crimes.
"I do believe in capital punishment," he said. "I do believe that there is biblical evil that lives among us and for some crimes you give up the right to be here on the Earth with the rest of us."
However, Moore added, he does not think the system is currently being implemented fairly and he wants to make sure it is reformed.
Beverly Perdue: Keep the moratorium in place.
Beverly Perdue said she supports capital punishment and the de facto moratorium currently in place.
I can understand someone feeling strongly that the death penalty is right for certain crimes, though I'm not sure I'd invoke the Bible to make my case. But I can't understand how any thoughtful policy-maker could support a fatally flawed system that kills innocent poor people.
From the N&O story:
Chapman is the seventh innocent death row prisoner in North Carolina to be released, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
He was sentenced to death in 1994 in the slayings of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley in Hickory. Their bodies were found in abandoned houses in August 1992. Chapman has always denied killing them.
Why was he released? Because the detective who led the murder investigation, Dennis Rhoney, withheld information that a key witness in the Ramseur case identified someone other than Chapman in a photo lineup.
Rhoney, who worked for the Hickory Police Department, also lied during his trial testimony against Chapman, Ervin wrote.
There are plenty of good cops in North Carolina, but there are also more than enough lying scumbags like Dennis Rhoney to cast serious doubt about the ability of our government to avoid killing innocent people in its program of state-sponsored blood lust.
McCrory and Moore will argue that the system worked. Glen Chapman is now a free man after spending 14 god-damned years in prison because of a crooked cop. But Glen Chapman was just plain lucky. We have no way of knowing how many innocent people have gone to their deaths. Or how many more will die if we allow the death penalty to resume.
Sadly, all three of these candidates support the death penalty, but only Perdue has recognized that her position is untenable in the face of mounting evidence that capital punishment cannot be fairly administered. That's why she has come around to supporting the de facto moratorium currently place. In this case, I'll take what I can get.
Update: In the interest of accuracy, headline updated from " . . . would have killed this man."