This may come as a shock given the recent absurd overreaction to the planned release of 20 long-term inmates from the Department of Correction, but here goes: North Carolina releases dozens of serious and violent (hopefully, formerly violent) criminal offenders EVERY DAY.
The state has 40,000 people in prison – many, many for very serious and dangerous crimes. It adds 28,000 new prisoners every year, but it releases 27,000. That’s a rate of 74 people released per day! Ninety-eight percent of current inmates will someday get out. After all, that’s kind of the idea of prison: one gets sentenced there for a crime and pays one’s debt to society.
Now, it’s understandable that some people have concerns about the people identified in the current brouhaha and the sentences they were given. Some of them were likely overly lenient. That’s probably why the law was changed years ago for folks convicted of crimes going forward.
But that doesn’t mean we should try to change the law now. Anybody ever heard of the term “ex post facto“?
Moreover, it’s entirely possible that many of these middle aged to older former offenders will do more good for society and their victim’s families by leading productive lives on the outside than they will by eating up $25,000 or so a year of taxpayer money on the inside. Let’s hope so.
And let’s hope that our political leaders (when they’re done pandering) expend at least a little energy to help assure that the released inmates have something of a chance to be productive citizens. That would be the best way for Governor Perdue to make the best of a bad situation.