Local News

Small Towns Come Together To Support Death-Penalty Moratorium

Posted August 4, 2004 10:22 a.m. EDT

— The call is getting louder for a death-penalty moratorium in North Carolina.

Not just from urban areas, but rural towns.

So far, three county commissions and 21 town councils have passed resolutions supporting a moratorium.

Included in the list are Cary, Durham and Durham County, Chatham County, Fayetteville, Orange County and its three biggest towns, as well as smaller places like Creedmoor.

The grassroots campaign hopes to gather support in the legislature.

Creedmoor is a small town of about 2,500 people. The city commissioners in the fast-growing town near the Granville-Wake County line unanimously passed a resolution supporting a two-year moratorium on the death penalty.

"It really was a debate about 'does our process allow innocent men and women to die or be executed in North Carolina?'" said Creedmoor Mayor Daryl Moss.

Granville County District Attorney Sam Currin believes opponents of the death penalty are lobbying small-town governments as a back-door effort to abolish the death penalty.

"I think the majority of North Carolinians still support the death penalty," Currin said, "and I think this is a guise on their part to say it's a study."

Supporters of the death penalty seem disturbed that small towns are embracing a very touchy subject with little or no public debate.

"Yes, it does bother me," Currin said. "They're just not giving the other side a fair shake in this, and I am disturbed by it."

According to the resolution passed in Creedmoor, 110 people, including five from North Carolina, have been released from death row after their innocence was proven.

"I think the question would be: 'Is a two-year pause worth a life?'" Moss said. "I really think it is."

The coalition

NC Moratorium Now

is assisting towns with the wording of the resolutions.

Using small towns is another way of building grassroots support for an issue sure to be a hot topic when the legislature meets next year.

Supporters of the moratorium hope the election turnover this fall will improve the odds of getting the measure passed.