North Carolina


Year of Reenactment
(since 1972 suspension)
Year of First Execution
(since reenactment)

1883-1908: hanging

1909-1934: electrocution

1935-1982: lethal gas

1983-present: lethal injection or lethal gas

Current Method
 Lethal Injection


North Carolina has life without parole.  A jury decides the sentence.  The Governor has the exclusive authority to grant clemency.

Since 1999, four inmates have been granted clemency. The 84th person to be freed from death row in the U.S. because of innocence was Alfred Rivera, who was acquitted at his retrial in North Carolina.

Orange County, North Carolina, became the first county in the U.S. to call for a moratorium on the death penalty, citing the dangers of mistaken executions.  The towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and the City of Durham also passed moratorium resolutions in 1999.

In early 2002, a new law allowed life without parole as an alternative. Death sentences dropped by over 50% following the law.

In 2009, Governor Purdue signed the Racial Justice Act, a law that allows pre-trial defendants and death-row inmates to challenge racial bias in the death penalty system through the use of statistical studies.  In 2012, the law was sharply curtailed by the legislature.

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