CDPL is a non-profit law firm that represents people on death row, coordinates capital litigation across North Carolina, and serves as a clearinghouse for accurate and timely information on the N.C. death penalty. We believe that indigent defendants facing the death penalty deserve the same kind of high-quality representation available to the highest-paying clients. We also believe that ending the unjust and error-prone death penalty is a crucial part of building a more humane criminal justice system in North Carolina.
Just weeks after their last landmark ruling on the Racial Justice Act, the N.C. Supreme Court has issued another stunning decision. The Aug. 14 decision is a historic call for the state to address and rise above its history of excluding Black citizens from jury service and allowing racial bias to seep into the prosecution of capital cases. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley wrote, “equal protection to all must be given—not merely promised” and pointed to an “egregious legacy of the racially discriminatory application” of the death penalty. Read our full press release.
CDPL is seeking a new staff attorney to support its mission of ending the death penalty and providing the highest quality representation to people on death row. CDPL’s commitment to representing indigent and disadvantaged defendants just as vigorously as corporate lawyers defend their highest-paying clients, and training other capital attorneys across the state to do the same, has saved the lives of many who faced execution. In addition to representing individual clients, CDPL spearheads litigation and public education campaigns that address systemic injustices and cast light on the arbitrariness and unfairness of our state’s capital punishment system.
A message from CDPL Executive Director Gretchen M. Engel: When I came to North Carolina in 1992 to work against the death penalty, my first client was an African American man who’d been convicted of killing a white state trooper. In fact, if you’d looked at my client list over the years, you’d think most of the violence in this country has been carried out by poor Black people — and that most of the victims were white. However, in fighting against the death penalty, we at CDPL have necessarily steeped ourselves in the history of racial oppression in America. Because we’ve studied this history, we know that much of the violence in our country has been carried out not by the people on death row, but by white people, some of them carrying badges or sitting in the highest positions of power, seeking to maintain the social order. And most of the people murdered in this country have never gotten justice.
Learn more about the death penalty. For a fuller listing, go to our Links page:
- N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
- Carolina Justice Policy Center
- Death Penalty Information Center
See Our Impact
CDPL’s staff has halted wrongful executions, helped free innocent people from death row, and exposed systemic injustices. Learn more about the work that has made CDPL a leader in addressing unfairness in capital punishment.