RALEIGH, N.C. -- With death penalty foe Sr. Helen Prejean by his side, Stephen Dear announced Dec. 2 a statewide grassroots campaign to abolish capital punishment in North Carolina, the only Southern state that has not carried out an execution in more than five years.
Dear, younger brother of NCR columnist Jesuit Fr. John Dear, is executive director of the North Carolina-based group People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.
Dear, Prejean and other religious leaders from around the state held a press conference to announce the "Kairos Campaign" to repeal the state's death penalty. While executions were common in North Carolina in the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s, various legal entanglements have put executions on hold since the Aug. 18, 2006, execution of Samuel Flippen. North Carolina still has 158 people on death row, the sixth highest total in the nation. Forty-three executions have been carried out in North Carolina since executions resumed in 1984.