Local News

Man Serving Life Sentence For Theft Of TV Seeks Freedom

Posted November 28, 2003 9:49 a.m. EST

— Junior Allen, 63, is serving a life sentence for second-degree burglary for breaking into a home in Johnston County in 1970 and stealing a television set.

Viewer response to his story has been overwhelming. Many people want to know why Allen is still in prison after 33 years, when a similar crime today would likely result in probation.

"I'm going to smile on the outside, but I'm definitely going to be crying inside. And probably cry inside until I get across the state line," Allen said.

Not a day goes by that Junior Allen does not dream of walking out of prison a free man.

The state said Allen's behavior is one of the reasons he is still incarcerated. In 33 years, he has committed 62 infractions -- about average for a maximum security inmate. All but eight are considered moderate by the Department of Correction.

"Disobeying an order, gambling. If you're asking me whether I think this shows that he's dangerous to the public, the answer's clearly no," attorney Rich Rosen said.

Rosen said those who have had the closest contact with Allen do not see him as a problem.

"We've talked to the prison officials where he's been moved, and they've all been very positive about him. He's 63 years old, and ready to go home," Rosen said.

"I think he deserved it, and I think he should stay in there," said Monroe Johnson.

Johnson has another theory as to why Allen is still bars. He and his family said Allen beat Johnson's mother before taking her television.

"That was why the judge gave him such a stiff sentence, was because of all the circumstances in the case, just not the TV," he said.

Allen was never charged with assault. And nowhere in the court records is there any mention of one.

"I don't mean to disparage them, but this would be the first case in the history of North Carolina that a black man went into the house of a white woman, and if in fact he assaulted her, or touched her in any way, and didn't get charged with it. The police didn't even ask him if he had touched her," Rosen said.

Thirty-three years later, the debate rages on. As Allen waits for parole, Lessie Johnson's family clings to their side of the story.

"I've told you and everybody else that I think he had served his time for what he did. But I think it's a mean person that would assault an 85, 86 year-old-lady," said Sandra Thornton, Johnson's granddaughter.

Allen's attorney has filed a clemency petition with the Governor's Office that is currently under consideration; however, Rich Rosen said the governor is not likely to act while a case is pending before the parole commission.

Allen's next parole hearing is in December.