RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A protest march on Saturday in Raleigh called for an end to the death penalty.
More than 100 people with the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty took to the streets demanding action from Gov. Roy Cooper.
They marched from North Carolina Central Prison to the Executive Mansion calling on the governor to commute the state’s death sentences for 135 people.
“After the death penalty there’s nothing you can do to commute a sentence,” said Tim Bliss, who participated in the march.
Leading the charge were those who lost loved ones to homicide.
“Violence is violence. My family experienced it and I hate to see it continue with the death penalty,” said Jean Parks.
Though the state has not carried out an execution since 2006, organizers say North Carolina has the fifth most populated death row in the nation.
Jamie Lau is the deputy director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility at Duke Law School.
He says too many people in North Carolina were wrongly sentenced to death.
“I’ve had clients. I’ve known the families of individuals who have been wrongly sentenced to death and North Carolina shouldn’t be sentencing people to death when we have a fallible system,” said Lau.
Instead, he and others want to see solutions.
“I would like to see the governor remove all of the individuals from death row, commute their sentences. A commutation doesn’t mean the individuals will be set free but at least it won’t be irreversible, they won’t be put to death so those who are in fact innocent and have not committed a crime where our system has potentially errored can be corrected,” said Lau.
Organizers say of the 135 people currently on death row all but a handful were sentenced more than two decades ago.