It has now been 221 days since Governor Pat McCrory received a formal request for a pardon from Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit.
McCollum and Brown, both mentally disabled, were freed September 4 of last year after the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission found DNA evidence that proved another man had committed the crimes.
Governor Pat McCrory issued a press release the same day, saying he was “heartened to see the convictions of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown vacated by the court” and that he would begin reviewing their applications for pardons of innocence as soon as they were received.
McCrory’s office received the applications 221 days ago and nothing has happened. The News & Observer reported two months ago that McCollum and Brown were unable to pay their bills and were relying on donations from friends and supporters to survive. At one point their water was turned off because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.
They are entitled under state law to $50,000 for every year they were wrongly incarcerated up to a maximum of $750,000 but they can’t get it until they receive a formal pardon of innocence from McCrory, who has yet to grant it or say anything publicly about the case.
The state of North Carolina robbed McCollum and Brown of 31 years of their lives. Now the governor is denying them justice again, preventing them from receiving the restitution to which they are entitled.
It is simply a disgrace.
NC Policy Watch plans to remind Gov. McCrory of this gross miscarriage of justice every day until he does the right thing and grants the pardon the two men deserved 221 days ago.
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