The Center for Death Penalty Litigation is a non-profit law firm that provides direct representation to inmates on North Carolina’s death row, as well as consulting with and training attorneys who practice capital litigation across the state. CDPL’s commitment to representing indigent and disadvantaged defendants just as vigorously as corporate lawyers defend their highest-paying clients has saved the lives of many who faced execution. In addition to representing individual clients, CDPL spearheads litigation that addresses systemic injustices and educates the public about the death penalty. CDPL has been a leading force in dramatically reducing the number of executions in North Carolina, and has cast light on the arbitrariness and unfairness of our state’s capital punishment system.
When you know how unfair, inefficient, and simply wrong the death penalty is, then the answer is clear. You must stop using it in all cases — even the difficult ones. We are so grateful for a Durham DA who understands that. Satana Deberry says she will not seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing three Muslim students. It was a terrible crime that hurt our community and must be punished, but not with the death penalty. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Read this lovely essay about why the death penalty is never the answer, even in the most painful cases.
North Carolina has long been considered a solidly pro-death penalty state, but a new poll finds that N.C. voters overwhelmingly believe the death penalty is error-prone and racially biased – and a majority believe it should be replaced with alternative punishments. The poll of 501 voters across the state comes as a capital trial begins in Wake County. It is the first comprehensive statewide survey of death penalty views in North Carolina. It reveals that a steep decline in new death sentences – North Carolina juries have sent only a single person to death row since 2014 – is the result of a sea change in public opinion about the death penalty that reaches across political divides.
In 2018, for the second year in a row, juries imposed no new death sentences in North Carolina. This marks the third year of the past four without any death sentences, and the first time in the state’s modern history that juries have rejected the death penalty for two consecutive years. The state has not executed anyone since 2006. “The death penalty in North Carolina has become a relic,” said Gretchen Engel, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and a defense attorney for death row prisoners. “Very few district attorneys seek death anymore and, when they do, juries reject it. The people of our state are speaking very clearly. We no longer need the death penalty to keep North Carolina safe.”
Learn more about the death penalty. For a fuller listing, go to our Links page:
- N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
- N.C. Advocates for Justice
- 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.