In December 2002, Ernest Basden was executed by the State of North Carolina during the infamous ice storm that caused North Carolina to declare a state of emergency. A few days later Desmond Carter was executed. Both men had strong family and community support and dedicated legal teams. Mr. Basden and Mr. Carter were the 22nd and 23rd men to be executed in North Carolina since 1984. One lawyer of Mr. Basden - who had at that time seen three clients executed - and Mr. Basden's family committed themselves to creating good out of their pain around his execution.
A group of those affected by murder and executions came together in 2003 to discuss how to address their pain and the pain of hundreds of others in similar circumstances. This was the birth of the Capital Restorative Justice Project.
The mission of the Capital Restorative Justice Project is to promote healing and nonviolent responses within North Carolina communities torn apart by capital murder and executions.
"Restorative justice is fundamentally different from retributive justice. It is justice that puts energy into the future, not into what is past. It focuses on what needs to be healed, what needs to be repaid, what needs to be learned in the wake of crime. It looks at what needs to be strengthened if such things are not to happen again."
Susan Sharpe, Restorative Justice: A Vision for Healing and Change, 1998
A central principle of the CRJP is that a murder is not simply a crime against the state, but rather, is fundamentally a crime against a family and a community of people. As a corollary, executions only perpetuate trauma and produce new victims of violence.
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