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NC Supreme Court: Life means life, regardless of good behavior

The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that two convicted killers must remain incarcerated, despite their claims that their life sentences should be reduced because of credits for good behavior.

Attorneys for Faye Brown and Alford Jones argued that when the two were sentenced in the 1970s life terms were defined as “80 years” by the legislature. They maintained over time credits for their work and good behavior cut their sentences in half.

In a 5-2 ruling, the high court determined that regardless of such merit time, there was no regulation explicitly stipulating that the credits were to be used to calculate an unconditional release date.

Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson wrote in her dissent that the decision “offends” common notions of fundamental fairness:

This decision violates the DOC’s own regulations and policies, Jones’s constitutional rights, and the doctrine of separation of powers. And by doing so, I fear that a cornerstone of our legal system, the writ of habeas corpus, is devalued.

You can read the full opinion here.

3 Comments

  1. Victor Erimita

    August 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    On reading this decision, one has to ask if elected judges can ever be effective protectors of the least in society.

    These persons are surely the least. How hard would it be to stick your neck out and say, sure, you hate them electorate, but they did their time and we can’t go changing the rules now to keep them in.

  2. James

    August 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Victor makes an excellent point.

  3. Jack

    August 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    The “…least…”! The word reflects how society views people who have been convicted of a crime. It’s contemptuous language and tags people as a prime target for discrimination, employment and financial to name two.

    Whether elected or appointed judges are in the political arena. I would prefer that judges stay beholding to the electorate for their jobs rather than people in smoked fill rooms.