Purdue “appalled” at life sentence ruling

Gov. Bev Perdue this week asked her attorneys and the N.C. Department of Justice to review all options available to the state to reverse and delay the North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the State v. Bowden case.

The court’s decision in that case will force the early release of murderers and rapists serving life sentences, including seven who were originally sentenced to death.

The governor this week received a list of 20 violent offenders who will be released on October 29 and dozens more who will be released in the next few years because of the court’s ruling. Each of the first 20 inmates who will be released have been reviewed for parole multiple times and denied. The court’s decision also prevents any additional review or recommendation by the Parole Commission, nor can these offenders be subject to any kind of monitoring or post-release supervision.

“I’m appalled that the state of North Carolina is being forced to release prisoners who have committed the most heinous of crimes, without any review of their cases,” said Gov. Perdue. “I don’t believe the General Assembly’s intent in 1974 was to let these violent offenders out of prison early. Releasing these potentially dangerous criminals is not in the best interest of the state or our citizens.”

The Department of Correction (DOC) is attempting to notify all known victims of these crimes and is working with district attorneys and victims advocates to locate victims for whom it does not have current contact information. Victims who have not been contacted are asked to call the DOC Office of Victim Services toll free at 1.866.719.0108. In addition, the DOC is working to identify recommended re-entry programs for offenders due to be released, although participation cannot be required.