SENTENCING: No Death Sentences in North Carolina for the First Time Since 1977

No new death sentences were imposed in North Carolina in 2012, marking the first time since 1977 that this has occurred. The state had a record-low of four capital trials in 2012. Thomas Maher, executive director of North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services, said, “In some ways, it’s a milestone. In other ways, it’s part of a trend.” In 2000, juries in the state presided at 57 capital trials, ultimately yielding 18 death sentences. In 2011, there were 12 capital trials resulting in 3 death sentences. North Carolina has not carried out an execution since 2006. This declining use of the death penalty is in line with a broader national trend. In 2011, there were 78 new death sentences in the U.S., a 75% drop from 1996, when 315 individuals were sentenced to death. It was the first time since 1976 that the country produced fewer than 100 death sentences in a single year.

There are no more capital trials scheduled in North Carolina this year. In 1995, the state sentenced 34 people to death, the most since it reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

(A. Blythe, “No one sentenced to death in North Carolina this year,” Raleigh News & Observer, November 10, 2012). See Sentencing and Life Without Parole.