Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998

By Kathleen A. O'Shea | Go to book overview

23
North Carolina: Gas/Lethal Injection

The state of North Carolina has sentenced fifteen women to death since 1900. Three women, Rosanna Phillips, Bessie Mae Smith, and Velma Barfield were executed and there are three women on death row in North Carolina today. The Governor has the power to grant a reprieve, commute the death sentence, or even pardon the offender.


THE DEATH PENALTY IN NORTH CAROLINA

Legislation enacted by North Carolina's Colonial Assembly first governed the administration of capital punishment in the state. Statutes passed in 1836- 1837 mandated the death penalty for murder, highway robbery, burglary, arson, dueling, rape, sodomy, bestiality, and stealing or hiding a slave. A person could also be sentenced to death for taking a free Negro out of state for sale into slavery, escaping while under a capital charge, horse stealing, bigamy, and for inciting slaves to insurrection or circulating pamphlets that did so ( Nakell & Hardy, 1987). After 1837 capital punishment statutes were enacted in 1872- 1873 that mandated the death penalty for willful murder, rape, arson, and burglary, all crimes that remained punishable by death in North Carolina until 1976. In 1910 the power to execute criminals was assumed by the state

The electric chair, the gas chamber, and lethal injection have all been used as methods of execution in North Carolina and all executions have taken place at the Central Prison in Raleigh.

North Carolina first used the electric chair on March 28, 1910 when Walter Morrison, a black laborer from Robeson, County, was convicted of rape and executed. There were 171 prisoners electrocuted after him during a period span of 28 years.

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