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Connecticut Abolishes Death Penalty: Impact on NC

April 27, 2012

BENSON, N.C. - North Carolina death-penalty opponents are applauding Connecticut.

This week, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill abolishing the death penalty, making Connecticut the 17th state to do so. It's promising news for North Carolina mother Christine Livingston, who recently changed her position on the death penalty after her daughter did some research for her senior class project.

Livingston was raised in a family of police officers, and served as one herself in Raleigh. She now is actively opposing the death penalty.

"I was always raised to believe that when you commit a crime, you do the time, and that's it. That means you've done it. I had no idea how unjust the entire system was."

North Carolina's death penalty was suspended in 2007. Since then, according to the state attorney general, the number of murders has fallen by 25 percent. Crime rates continue to drop in the state and now sit at a 33-year low.

Livingston says one issue she has with the death penalty is the reality that inmates on Death Row might never have done the crime to begin with.

"And then we find out afterwards that he never committed the crime and we put an innocent man to death. For what? What purpose does it serve? And who's going to be held accountable for it. "

Connecticut now joins Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey in abolishing capital punishment in recent years. A court declared New York's death-penalty law unconstitutional eight years ago. The latest study by a researcher at Duke University found that if North Carolina replaced the death penalty with life in prison without parole, it would save more than $11 million a year.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC