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Lethal StateA History of the Death Penalty in North Carolina$
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Seth Kotch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469649870

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649870.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

I Cannot Allow This Boy to Be Executed

I Cannot Allow This Boy to Be Executed

The Essential Role of Mercy, 1910–1949

(p.84) 3 I Cannot Allow This Boy to Be Executed
Lethal State

Seth Kotch

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explains how executive clemency—the state governor’s power to reduce a death penalty to a lesser sentence—helped make capital punishment function in North Carolina. With mandatory death sentences for four serious crimes (murder, rape, burglary, and arson), judges had no choice but to pronounce a death penalty upon conviction. This left it up to the governor to decide whether or not the convicted person would be executed. Although this power was reserved for the governor, it was soon transferred to a parole board, which reviewed each death sentence and invited community comment. This process most benefitted teenagers and women. Perversely, more African Americans received commutations than whites because of the high rate of error in their trials.

Keywords:   executive clemency, clemency, commutation, death sentences, mandatory death sentence, jury discretion

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