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.
CDPL is happy to announce that Steve Freedman is the winner of this year’s J. Kirk Osborn award for outstanding leadership in capital defense. In 30 years as a public defender, Steve has taken on the most difficult capital cases and persuaded juries to spare his clients’ lives, while also serving as a mentor and trainer to other lawyers. In light of rising Covid cases, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the celebration until spring, in hopes of being able to gather in person. Thanks to those who have already donated in Steve’s honor. Please continue to register for the event, and stay tuned for a new date.
In February, a diverse group of criminal justice reform advocates launched a campaign to rid North Carolina courthouses of Confederate monuments and symbols. CDPL stands in solidarity with this effort and with civil rights advocates who seek racial justice in all aspects of the criminal punishment and carceral systems. The continued presence of these monuments, many of which were erected during the Jim Crow era as symbols of white supremacy, is indicative of our state’s broader failure to root out racism that lies at the heart of the criminal punishment system. Their removal is an important first step toward rooting out inequities.
CDPL is proud to announce RacistRoots.org, an ambitious new project that reveals the North Carolina death penalty’s deep entanglement with racism. Using historical narrative and multiple viewpoints, this project puts the modern death penalty in the context of history. The North Carolina death penalty began as a way to enforce slavery and Jim Crow, and its racist roots run deep. Today, it remains a way to disproportionately punish people of color for crimes against white people. The death penalty is another Confederate monument we must tear down. Please explore this project and tell us what you think.
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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.