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.
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.
This fall, CDPL executive director Gretchen M. Engel spoke to the N.C. Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. As the task force weighs reforms to the state’s criminal punishment system in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests, Gretchen told a deeply personal story about why ending the death penalty must be part of our efforts to eradicate racism. Please read her remarks.
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.