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Inmates' release again blocked by courts

Posted December 18, 2009

— The state Supreme Court on Friday blocked a judge's order to release two convicted killers from prison.

Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand on Monday ordered that Alford Jones and Faye Brown be released, and the state Court of Appeals on Thursday lifted a temporary stay of his order, clearing the way for their release.

Highway Patrol Trooper Guy Thomas Davis Jr. Nephew: Slain trooper didn't get second chance

The state Attorney General's Office appealed to the Supreme Court for another stay, and the court decided shortly before 4 p.m. Friday to delay the inmates' release until justices had time to review the arguments made in the case and determine whether they warrant a full hearing.

Jones and Brown were scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. if the Supreme Court didn't act.

They are among several dozen inmates serving life sentences under a 1974 law that defined a life sentence as 80 years. Attorneys for the inmates have argued that the old law, combined with good-behavior credits, means their clients' prison terms are complete.

State Department of Correction officials have maintained that state law prohibits felons serving life prison sentences from receiving good behavior credits for purposes of unconditional release from prison. The credits were awarded only for purposes of earning a more favorable custody grade, for becoming eligible for parole or for a commutation of a sentence by the governor, state officials say.

Rand ruled that the DOC officials wrongly interpreted the regulation on the sentence-reduction credits and never limited how those credits could be used.

The nephew of state Highway Patrol Trooper Guy Thomas Davis Jr., who was killed in 1975 as Brown and two men were making their getaway after a bank robbery in Martin County, said his family is outraged the courts are even considering releasing her and other inmates.

"I kind of feel like they're getting a third chance, and my uncle didn't get a third chance," Scott Williamson said. "It really doesn't matter how you do the math. There is no way you could do enough good while you're in prison in just a few years to knock 50 years off an 80-year sentence. It just doesn't add up."

Meanwhile, another Superior Court judge reached an opposite conclusion Friday in the case of another inmate sentenced under the 1974 law to life in prison.

Judge Gentry Caudill ruled in Cleveland County that "no Secretary of Correction has ever directed good-behavior credits to be applied to calculate an unconditional release date for a life sentence." Because of that, the judge denied claims by Wilbur William Folston that he should be released.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has vowed to fight the inmate releases, saying they should be handled through the state parole board and be subject to post-release supervision.

Her spokeswoman, Chrissy Pearson, said late Friday that Perdue supports Caudill's reading of the law and the facts of Folston's case and is pleased the Supreme Court stopped the release of Jones and Brown.

"Allowing the stay to stand is the most appropriate step as the state seeks a conclusive answer on how to make sure inmates are not released without a proper and thorough review by the parole commission," Pearson said in a statement. "The bottom line remains: Inmates sentenced to life should not be allowed to walk out the prison door without a parole review and appropriate post-release supervision."

The Supreme Court in October declined to hear an appeal of the Court of Appeals ruling that created the controversy. Double-murderer Bobby Bowden claimed he should be released under the 1974 law, and the appellate judges agreed with him. The case has been sent back to Cumberland County for review.

78 Comments

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  • WRALblows Dec 18, 7:35 p.m.

    "GLAD for some of our Judicial System. Keep them there."

    They will. Long enough to determine there's no grounds for a hearing. Then they're out.

  • noreplytome2 Dec 18, 6:37 p.m.

    It doesn't matter really. The feds can't keep crime out of the prisons, so why waste money on "the system?" Gotta agree with 'The Eternal', an armed society is a polite society. The Swedes don't seem to have a crime problem, yet every house has at least one "assault rifle" (ohnoes!!!!).

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 18, 6:33 p.m.

    I'm just curious. If someone is convicted of murder, and gets 50 years, and serves all 50 years, should they be released? If not, why not? If so, why so?

    Think carefully about your answer. Now think of these prisoners. They were convicted and served some of their sentence. If our system allowed them to accrue time off for good behavior, and that shortened their sentence to the point where their time is up, should they be released?

    If the former is different from the latter, I'd like to know how they are different. In both cases, they played the hand that was dealt to them. What legal reason do we have to keep either prisoner (in the above examples) in prison?

  • THE ETERNAL Dec 18, 6:15 p.m.

    Let them out. We spend too much money on the prison system. Everyone buy a gun if need be instead of paying for people to stay in prison on our money.

  • Hokies94 Dec 18, 6:13 p.m.

    GLAD for some of our Judicial System. Keep them there.

  • COPs eye Dec 18, 6:05 p.m.

    This topic is ridiculous their time is up...let them loose so they can be locked up again IF they commit another crime. As for all you that are so frantic about this topic...open your eyes there are criminals around you everyday and you are to blind to see them. Letting these 25 loose will not change the DOC system. It is broken and so is the NC government. I Should be governor....LOL. I couldnt possibly be worse than Purdue.
    Merry Christmas to all good night!

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 18, 5:58 p.m.

    "they already do the 3 things you stated 1st is probable cause and the 2nd is possible and the 3rd well we all know the govermaent does what they want to reguardless so whats your point or maybe we should just reright the dictionary on what the meaning of words are life should mean exactly what it says life but then agian illegal dosent mean anything either and theres a prime example of the goverment doing what they want to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    No, they do NOT. Probably cause is much different from the a random search. If they have probable cause, they have probable cause and that is written into the law. If they kick in your door without probable cause, in a random search, that is NOT legal. And anything they find in such a search cannot be used against you in court.

    You people just don't get it. You're like a mob with torches and pitchforks with COMPLETE disregard for the law. It's disgusting and frankly, more scary than any of these people behind bars, in a different way.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 18, 5:55 p.m.

    "Whatever, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

    Other than a police state.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 18, 5:54 p.m.

    "Our laws have always be generalized in the wording "left open for interpretation" that is wht we have amendments to said laws."

    Not all of them. If you were right, we'd just have a big free-for-all for a government.

  • COPs eye Dec 18, 5:53 p.m.

    TO ME LIFE MEANS LIFE!!!!! ANOTHER DEFINITON FOR LIFE IS YOU GO IN ALIVE YOU LEAVE DEAD!!!! HELLO THESE PEOPLE NEED TO STAY IN PRISION B/C IF THEY HAVE KILLED BEFORE THEY WILL PROBABLY KILL AGAIN!!!!!!!!!
    arljsl

    Cut back on your caffeine intake.

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