Sunday, 25 November 2007

Freed Death Row Inmates Call for Moratorium on Executions in North Carolina

Eighteen former death row inmates from around the country recently toured North Carolina and called for a moratorium on executions. The tour, one of the largest of its kind and organized by People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and Witness to Innocence, included speaking engagements in churches and public auditoriums, as well as a rally in front of North Carolina's Legislative Building. Two legislators, Rep. Pricey Harrison and Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird, joined the exonerees to lend their support to the group's call for a halt to executions and a study of North Carolina's capital punishment system.

Among the 18 exonerees who shared their stories of wrongful conviction during the tour was Shujaa Graham, who was released from California's death row in 1981. Graham said that those who have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die must deal every day with the injustice they have endured, noting, "I've been out more than 20 years, and I still suffer today. I saw a lot of my friends executed. As I regained my humanity . . . I learned to start forgiving." Gary Drinkard (pictured), who was freed from Alabama's death row after he was acquitted in 2001, added, "I spent seven years, eight months and 21 days locked up. . . . A lot of ex-death row inmates say they don't have a lot of animosity. Well, I have a lot." Drinkard added that he is seeking a halt to executions because the justice system is inherently political. He said that prosecutors and district attorneys often feel pressured to get murder convictions in order to be promoted, and that this reality can lead to wrongful convictions.

Five wrongly convicted people have been freed from North Carolina's death row. Nationwide, there have been 124 death row exonerations.
(The News & Observer, November 3, 2007 & The Daily Tar Heel, November 5, 2007).

Please go to the web address below for more information on death row exonerees country wide.

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