death penalty

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown

What does the death penalty really cost North Carolina?

BY: - April 21, 2023

In March, an appeals court affirmed the historic $75 million in damages that a jury granted to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, brothers who were sentenced to death in Robeson County in 1983 and spent 30 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit, and who’s case was plagued by systemic racism. Now, the […]

Bill would abolish the death penalty

BY: - April 17, 2023

Four House Democrats have filed a bill that would repeal North Carolina’s death penalty and resentence the 137 people on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The proposal comes as advocates continue to urge Gov. Roy Cooper to commute all pending death sentences and clear the state’s death row before he […]

Efforts continue to get Cooper to commute death sentences before he leaves office

BY: - April 12, 2023

Religious leaders will call on Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday to commute the punishments of 137 people in state prisons sentenced to death. Such an action would clear North Carolina’s Death Row. Organizers will deliver a letter to the governor signed by almost 300 faith leaders — representing every major faith tradition including Islam, Judaism, […]


The death penalty does nothing to keep us safe. Let’s end it now.

BY: - February 15, 2023

Exonerated former Death Row inmate details the horrific miscarriage of justice he endured I was a 35-year-old military veteran working for the U.S. Postal Service in Phoenix when my life was turned upside down. I was arrested and charged for a crime I knew nothing about. My trial only lasted four days and the jury […]


Racist jury strikes go on trial at the NC Supreme Court

BY: - February 1, 2023

Russell Tucker was a Black man facing the death penalty in the South in the “tough-on-crime” 1990s. He deserved the chance to be tried by a jury of his peers — people who might have had similar life experiences and been able to see him as something other than a one-dimensional “monster.” However, a Forsyth […]

The year ahead: Capital punishment and other criminal justice issues in North Carolina

BY: - January 4, 2023

One of the first things I did after starting at Policy Watch last summer was ask the Department of Public Safety to give me tours of a few of the state’s 53 prisons. I’d done the same thing at my last job, in Connecticut. My thinking is, if I’m going to write about a state’s prison system, I owe it to readers and those locked within to see some those places firsthand. A guided tour is not the best way to get a sense of how incarcerated people are treated each day, but it has some advantages. While prison officials can present a sanitized version of their correctional facilities, they cannot change each building’s architecture, the layout of the housing units or the size of the cells in which the incarcerated live, locked away for years at a time.


Virginia abolished biased, inefficient, botched executions; more states should follow suit

BY: - January 4, 2023

On Dec. 13, just as horrifying images from Iran emerged showing condemned protestors hanged publicly on street-corner construction cranes, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown followed Virginia’s lead and commuted the death sentences of 17 inmates to life imprisonment and dismantled that state’s death chamber. It is gratifying to see another state break away from the horrific […]

Outgoing Oregon governor does what advocates are calling on North Carolina’s to do: commute death sentences

BY: - December 15, 2022

On Tuesday Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted the sentences of 17 people on death row, changing their punishment to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The commutations build on Brown’s historic use of her office’s clemency power. A story in The Guardian from earlier this year says that she has granted more commutations […]

A quick look at the death penalty in North Carolina as clemency month continues

BY: - December 8, 2022

Advocates will march two miles Saturday, from Central Prison to the governor’s mansion in downtown Raleigh, calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to commute North Carolina’s 135 death sentences. The efforts complement an ongoing vigil outside the mansion demanding the governor use his clemency powers to address the disparate racial impact that the state’s prison system […]

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown

Monday numbers: New report details how much more likely Black people are to be wrongly convicted than whites

BY: - October 3, 2022

More than 3,200 people have been exonerated since 1989. Over half of them are Black. Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were sentenced to death in 1984 for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in Robeson County. The teenagers — half-brothers who were 19 and 15 years old, both Black and with cognitive disabilities — confessed under pressure from police, but there wasn’t physical evidence connecting them to the crime.


Remembering Marcus Robinson, who helped expose death penalty racism

BY: - July 8, 2022

Last month, Marcus Robinson was found dead in his cell at Scotland Correctional Institution. The prison ruled it a suicide. He was 49 and had spent his entire adult life, as well as a good chunk of his childhood, in prison. His death didn’t make the news. But for those who worked on Marcus’ case […]


There’s a path for John Roberts to save Roe. He should take it

BY: - May 10, 2022

A step taken by a former chief justice 50 years ago provides the model In 1972, not long after the decision in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment.