Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Execution Is Not the Answer to Failures of State's Foster Care System 

The case of Perrie Dyon Simpson highlights the systematic failure of North Carolina 's foster care system in the 1960s and the 1970s. A product of that failed system, Perrie is facing an execution date on Jan. 20, 2006. The execution of this remorseful man would be an exercise in needless cruelty. 

Perrie, a black male, was sentenced to death by a Rockingham County jury for the August 27, 1984, murder of Rev. Jean Ernest Darter, a white male. At the time of the murder, Perrie was 21 years old. Acknowledging his guilt and accepting responsibility for his actions, Perrie confessed to the murder and entered a plea of guilty. Perrie was sentenced to death, while Stephanie Eury, his 16-year-old codefendant who instigated the murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Eury has a parole hearing on February 1, 2006. 

Perrie is not a career criminal or someone with a history of violence. Rather, he is the product of North Carolina 's failure to care for its most vulnerable citizens: our unwanted children. Perrie entered the foster care system immediately upon his birth because Perrie's mother had severely abused Perrie's older brother. The abuse left Perrie's brother blind, deaf, and brain damaged to the point he was eventually institutionalized. Perrie's mother received a prison sentence for the abuse. 

Neither of Perrie's parents ever demonstrated any interest in his life, yet they refused to relinquish custody and allow Perrie to be adopted. Consequently, Perrie spent the first eighteen years of his life in the foster care system bouncing from placement to placement. During his childhood, Perrie was moved 18 different times to variety of foster homes, a relative's home and institutions. Because he was moved constantly, Perrie never formed the personal attachments or sense of security which are so necessary for a child's emotional development. The foster care system failed to provide Perrie with a stable environment and address his severe learning disabilities and psychiatric needs, resulting in absolute failure in the school system. 

Joan Landreth, a 23-year veteran with Guilford County Social Services, worked with Perrie from the time he was 10 to 17 years old. Landreth testified for Perrie in court but was not permitted to tell the jury that, because of Perrie's chaotic childhood, he did not have the ability to think clearly and control his behavior at the time of the murder. This type of testimony, particularly from a mental health professional with direct, personal experience with the defendant, is very significant to jurors deciding between life and death. 

Perrie's difficult childhood was further complicated by severe attention deficiency and hyperactivity disorder which went undiagnosed and untreated. Perrie also suffered from other significant mental and personality disorders. Due to lack of treatment, Perrie continued to suffer from significantly impaired comprehension in written and verbal communication. As these disorders festered in the foster care system, Perrie became increasingly isolated socially and lacking in self-esteem. Social worker Landreth states that Perrie's various custodians within the foster care system were untrained and unequipped to detect or care for his serious problems, that that the State of North Carolina utterly failed to provide the treatment that Perrie so desperately needed. 

Desperate for the kind of family that he was denied as a child, Perrie became emotionally dependent on Stephanie Eury. At the time of the murder, Eury was nine months pregnant with their child. Perrie thought this was his chance to have a family. It was Eury who led Perrie to Rev. Darter's home on the fateful night of the crime, it was Eury who decided Rev. Darter must be killed and it was Eury who told Perrie to commit the murder. 

Perrie, now 42, has repeatedly expressed remorse for the murder and thinks about Rev. Darter every day. Life without parole is sufficient and appropriate punishment in this case. From the time of his birth, Perrie was at a severe disadvantage in never having a permanent home, a stable family life, a continuity in his education and his medical and psychological treatment. Executing Perrie Simpson now only adds another tragedy to this series of events. 

Stop Scheduled Executions 

Contact Gov. Mike Easley at:
Governor's Office, 20301 Mail Services Center,
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Email: governor.office@ncmail.net or through www.governor.state.nc.us
Fax: (919) 733-2120 or 715-3175
Tel: 1-800-662-7952 (North Carolina only) or (919) 733-5811 

Remember victims of murder and their families and those on death row in your and your congregation's prayers. 

Urge your congregation and your minister to get involved. 

Meet with your congregation's pastor, rabbi or leader. Ask him or her to preach against the death penalty, even if you are sure he or she would not want to do so. Write an article for the bulletin and announce the protests against the death penalty. Announce the actions (listed below) people can take. Ask your minister or rabbi to write a letter to Gov. Easley. Urge your congregation to pass a resolution for a moratorium on executions. 

Write letters to the editor. 

Letters should be brief (fewer than 250 words) and include your name, address, and telephone number. Editors prefer e-mail letters if you have that option. Please let us know if any of this contact information has changed. You can find out more about pending executions at www.pfadp.org . 

Write or call your state representative and senator and urge them to ask the governor for clemency. Odds are great that he or she will not even know the execution is scheduled, much less any of the facts about the case. To find out who represents you, click here 

Get others involved. Announce scheduled executions and the protests against them in your congregation's bulletin. Pass this alert along to anyone you know who would be willing to help. 

Organize a protest, prayer vigil, or service. If you would like to organize a protest, an interfaith vigil or prayer service in your community before a scheduled execution, PFADP can assist you with liturgies and publicity. Contact info@pfadp.org or (919) 933-7567.

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