After the murder of state correctional officers, state Republican leaders are calling for the governor and state attorney general to resume carrying out the death penalty in North Carolina.
The state has not executed anyone since 2006, due to a slew of legal challenges that have resulted in a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty.
Other hurdles to carrying out the death penalty include access to the life-taking drugs used in lethal injection, which is the primary form of execution for every state that has the death penalty, to doctors refusing to participate in the process of carrying out the death penalty.
Currently there are 143 inmates on death row in North Carolina.
On Friday, Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) called on Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein to restart the death penalty in North Carolina.
Both Cooper and Stein are Democrats.
“For over a decade, death penalty opponents like Roy Cooper and Josh Stein have imposed a de-facto moratorium on capital punishment in North Carolina, using every legal trick possible –including inaction – to delay death sentences handed down by juries and deny justice to victims,” Berger said. “No matter what they say, Cooper’s and Stein’s indifference and failure to fight the moratorium endangers the lives of prison employees in close proximity to hardened murderers with nothing left to lose, who see no possibility they will face execution for killing again.”
Cooper was first elected to the office of the attorney general in 2000, and was replaced by Stein after Cooper rose to the office of governor after his election in 2016.
“In light of the prosecutor’s decision to pursue the death penalty, Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein need to make certain, should a jury sentence these men to death, that those sentences are carried out,” declared Moore.
During the campaign Stein said that he supports keeping the death penalty law on the books but emphasized the state needs to take care to avoid racial bias in the use of capital punishment.
During his campaign Stein said, “I support the death penalty because I believe that certain crimes are so heinous that it is the appropriate punishment. In implementing it, our justice system must ensure no innocent person is executed and that race does not play a role in who lives or dies.”
One of the four inmates charged with the death penalty in connection with the failed escape attempt is African American.
The four inmates have been charged with first-degree murder for the killings that took pace during an attempted escape from Pasquotank Correctional Institute in October.
The four have also been charged with, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one felony count of inciting a riot, one count of burning a building, one count of attempted escape from prison, and one misdemeanor count of assault with a deadly weapon.
The inmates are accused of using scissors and hammers to carry out the murders, that also left eight other prison employees injured.
The inmates are accused of setting a fire on October 12 at about 3 p.m. and inciting a riot in the sewing shop of the prison where about 30 inmates work.
Several inmates tried to escape during the fire and riot.
One of the inmates is in prison for murder, two others are incarcerated for attempted murder.
One of the two is in prison for shooting a state trooper in the face during a traffic stop and the other for stabbing the wife of another soldier 15 times after breaking into the soldier’s home in 2011.
The fourth prisoner charged in connection with the failed escape attempt is in prison for first-degree burglary and was set to be released next year.