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  • Collection: Facing Controversy

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In 2003, North Carolina State Senator Eleanor "Ellie" Kinnaird sponsored a bill (S.B. 972) in the North Carolina State Senate to institute a two-year moratorium on capital punishment for the purpose of studying the inequities in capital sentencing…

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This text is from a chapter titled "Illustrative Judicial Aberrations." Ervin, the former judge and N.C. Supreme Court justice, argues that the decision in Furman v Georgia was flawed in that the majority did not rightly consider the intent of the…

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Ms. Kerns writes to Sen. Ervin as a supporter of the death penalty with a relative who has been raped and murdered. She argues that if young people in North Carolina "do not see justice done...could you blame them for looking toward Communism or…

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Mr. Smith takes the position on capital punishment opposite Ms. O'Bryant's, arguing that the death penalty should be imposed as a deterrent and "that some national, uniform bill concerning capital punishment should be enacted." Ervin responded…

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After the Furman decision, while executions were halted nationwide, constituents and others contacted Senator Ervin with their opinions about capital punishment. Ms. O'Bryant, a college student, argues that "capital punishment does not seem to be the…

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Ervin expresses his support for Senate Bill S.1401 and his opinion on capital punishment.

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Senator Ervin co-sponsored this bill, intended "To establish rational criteria for the mandatory imposition of the sentence of death..." by federal courts in cases of murder and treason. It was proposed in response to the Furman v. Georgia decision.

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Paul Green's response to Ruby McArthur's letter of 2 January 1963. His response is characteristically personal and empathetic.

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McArthur's husband was murdered in 1961. She writes to author Paul Green in response to a newspaper editorial he had written calling for an end to the death penalty. McArthur shares her tragic experience with Green and explains why she supports…

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Following an editorial written by Paul Green, published in the Greensboro Daily News, Reverend W.A. Stanbury of Asheboro, N.C., writes to Green, "More than a quarter of a century ago, when serving as pastor of a church in Raleigh, I walked down the…

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In the late 1940s, Paul Green compiled excerpts from these letters from condemned death row prisoners which, as the document states, were "usually written on the night before their execution the next morning." The excerpt shown here is a letter from…

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In May 1945, Green wrote to North Carolina Governor R. Gregg Cherry supporting Cherry's decision to commute the sentence of condemned inmate William Dunheen from death to life in prison. Dunheen, eighteen at the time, was given a medical discharge…

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E.M. Land was the prosecuting attorney in the trial of William Mason Wellmon, a black laborer who was convicted and sentenced to die in 1941 for the rape of sixty-seven-year-old white farmer Cora Sowers. In his defense, Wellmon stated that he was at…

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In September 1933, Emanuel Bittings (or Biddings), a black tenant farmer and World War I veteran, shot his landlord T.M. Clayton in an argument apparently over Clayton's ordering Bittings to move some tobacco into a packhouse. Bittings testified that…

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During the 1920s and 1930s Paul Green was not unequivocally opposed to the death penalty. Green biographer Laurence G. Avery points out in his book, A Paul Green Reader, that Green's views began to shift in the mid-1930s as he began to feel that "no…
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