SBI Articles: September 13th

Full article here: Fayetteville Observer: State officials work to restore trust in SBI lab

“The reports about North Carolina’s crime laboratory have been damning: Evidence concealed, bias, analysts with little scientific training, an innocent man imprisoned.

Now, prosecutors and defense lawyers are preparing to review numerous cases that were mishandled by State Bureau of Investigation analysts between 1987 and 2003. The state attorney general is replacing the lab’s leadership and is pursuing further review of the staff’s training, policies and practices.

And state leaders are grappling with how to assure the public that its criminal justice system is fair.”

The Herald Sun: Hard numbers key questions

“North Carolinians have long supported capital punishment.

In fact, even in the middle of disclosures that the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab had falsified and misrepresented evidence that may have affected more than 200 cases, some voters remain staunch believers in the death penalty.

The conservative Civitas Institute commissioned a poll of 400 unaffiliated voters, who were asked “Do you support or oppose the death penalty for first-degree murder?” between Aug. 16 and 18.

Sixty-four percent said they totally support capital punishment, compared to 27 percent who said they totally oppose it. (In the Triangle, the numbers broke down to 61 percent in support, 31 percent against.)

On the other hand, as far back as 2004, polls showed that 64 percent of North Carolinians supported a temporary moratorium in order to study how the state manages capital punishment.

Shortly thereafter, the North Carolina Medical Board forced a de facto moratorium on the state, when the board said it would take disciplinary action against physicians who take an active role in executions. The N.C. Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that the NCMB had exceeded its authority.

Also in 2009, the legislature passed the Racial Justice Act, which gave death row inmates a year to challenge their convictions. We will be sorting through the resulting challenges for some time to come.

As a result, North Carolina hasn’t executed a prisoner since Aug. 18, 2006. We’re four years into an ad-hoc, strawman moratorium, anyway, and the ugly truths about our racial bias and our shoddy work on evidence is just starting to emerge.

Once again, we urge the legislature to formally halt executions in North Carolina.”

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