Today Gov. Beverly Perdue announced that she had saved the State from the predations of 20 vicious criminals who were about to be released. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Here’s what happened:
On October 16, 2009 Gov. Perdue received from her own Department of Corrections a list of 20 violent offenders who were supposedly to be released on October 29, 2009. She claimed that she was being forced to do this by the Courts. “I am 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.” Her own Department of Corrections was notifying the victims of these crimes to prepare them for the trauma of these releases.
In a news release dated October 16, 2009 entitled “Releasing Violent Criminals a Travesty/Governor’s Comments Inconsistent with her Actions” I pointed out that “Governor Perdue’s Department of Corrections has wrongly calculated the sentences and that it might be quite a while before these criminals get out. I have asked our research staff to provide accurate data to me so that I can assist the department.” I also pointed out that she should not be appalled by the actions of her own department since she had herself signed Senate Bill 461 which put a moratorium on the death penalty for cold blooded murderers.
On October 22, 2009 Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News & Observer reported “Governor Perdue May Defy Courts Over Inmate Release” that she was “considering defying the courts in blocking their release next week.” That is an appalling civics lesson. The children of this state learned that the Chief Executive would defy the courts and violate her own solemn oath of office.
Her posture of defiance was completely unnecessary as Rep. Nelson Dollar and I pointed out in a letter to the Attorney General and to the Secretary of Corrections that day “The sentence credits which the Department appears poised to grant do not statutorily apply to these 20 prisoners. A thorough legal review would show that the department’s policy is flat out contrary to the statutes. …Please stop the rush and apply the statutes.”
The next day, October 23, Gov. Perdue continued her course of action of blaming the courts for what was an error caused by her own department. In a statement issued that day she said “When I learned that the Supreme Court had issued a ruling that meant offenders serving life in prison would be released after a mere 35 years, I was appalled.” The Supreme Court said no such thing. In a release sent October 29, 2009, I pointed out again that “no court has ordered the release of these 20 murderers and rapists and that Gov. Beverly Perdue’s actions pretending to save the people of this state from the release of these violent felons [was] play acting. She should get control of her own department and exercise verbal self-restraint.”
The conclusion is this: The convicts in question are not likely to get out of jail for a very long time. If they do, it will only be at the direction of a court duly elected by the people to make that decision. In that highly unlikely event no Governor will stand in the courthouse door defying the Courts.
This entire controversy was caused by the Governor’s own Department misunderstanding an Appellate Court decision, miscalculating sentence credits, and misinforming victims and the public. Now she claims credit for protecting us from her own error. This is really appalling and inexplicable.
For More Information Contact: Rep. Paul Stam (919) 362-8873 or Keith Weatherly (919) 733-2962