Gretchen Engel

Anniversary provides powerful reminder of racism that afflicts NC’s death penalty

By: - October 6, 2021

A few months ago, my former client Robert Bacon died in the hospital at Central Prison. Because of COVID-19, he died alone. His loving sister had only a video call with him a few weeks after medical staff stopped Robert’s cancer treatments.  I’ve been thinking about Robert a lot lately, because twenty years ago this week, he was scheduled to be executed.

Death penalty attorney, 15 years after watching her client executed: “I still talk to him sometimes”

By: - August 27, 2018

I watched him die 15 years ago, and I still talk to him sometimes. I talked to him a lot in the weeks after he was killed and thought maybe I was going a little crazy. And then I thought, it’s probably normal to go a little crazy when you see somebody killed 10 feet in front of you, somebody you knew really well and cared about and tried so hard to save.

Still on the books and still unjust

By: - May 15, 2017

Death penalty spree in Arkansas provides sobering reminder that NC’s system remains fatally flawed

Since Arkansas shocked the world by trying to execute eight people in 10 days just to beat the expiration date on its lethal drugs, there has been more talk about the death penalty in North Carolina.

Racial discrimination remains a plague on our criminal justice system

By: - November 5, 2015

One of the fundamental promises of the American criminal justice system is that ordinary citizens have the power to help decide how justice is handed down. But the truth is, we have never fully extended this power to African Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court underscored that truth Monday, when it heard arguments in Foster v. […]

The evolution of a conservative crusader

By: - August 10, 2015

I. Beverly Lake’s inspiring transformation into a champion of criminal justice reform As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of condemned defendants, I never imagined I would sing the praises of a man who, as a legislator, fought passionately for the death penalty. Who, as a trial judge, seemed to possess a […]

North Carolina’s crime lab scandal remains unaddressed

By: - September 24, 2013

Across the country, serious lapses have been discovered in dozens of crime labs in the past two decades. Labs that provide key evidence in criminal trials, including death penalty cases, have admitted to using contaminated equipment and untrained employees, covering up questionable work, and falsifying test results. But of all the scandals that have surfaced, […]