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Friday, May 30, 2014

DOJ report: N.C. has sixth-highest total of death row prisoners

Posted by on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM

As of year-end 2012, there were 152 prisoners facing death sentences in North Carolina, the sixth-highest total in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

North Carolina follows California (712), Florida (403), Texas (290), Pennsylvania (200) and Alabama (191) for the number of inmates facing death. Thirty-five states administering the death penalty in 2012 were analyzed in the report. (The number of states issuing capitol punishment has since dropped to 32.)

Since the conclusion of the study, the number of death row inmates in North Carolina has increased to 154, according to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. 

North Carolina has seen the total number of death row inmates decrease by six between 2011 and 2012. Five of those inmates had their sentences overturned by appellate courts, and one died in an unrelated matter. 

North Carolina was not among the nine states that executed 43 inmates in 2012. There hasn't been an execution in North Carolina since 2006. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has adopted a new, single-drug protocol for executions, but the legality of the program is currently being contested in the courts.

The number of inmates sentenced to death in the United States increased sharply between 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, and the peak year of 2000. Since then the total has steadily declined as more states have banned the practice. 

The DOJ report culled data from the National Prisoner Statistics Program, which receives its statistics from each jurisdiction's department of corrections and attorney general's office. 

North Carolina can implement death sentences following first-degree murder convictions where at least one out of 11 statutory aggravating circumstances is present. 

Of the state's 152 death row inmates, 79 are black and 66 are white. Three are women. They have spent an average of 14.3 years on death row.

Since 1977, North Carolina has executed 43 inmates—41 by lethal injection, and two by lethal gas. Since 1930, North Carolina has executed 306 prisoners, the fourth-highest total in the country.

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