Attorneys Debate: Are Disputed Inmates 'Lifers'?

Attorneys are debating whether a group of North Carolina inmates sentenced in the 1970s should be considered "lifers."

Dozens of prisoners were sentenced to "life" under a law that limited the length of their prison terms to 80 years. State attorneys argued Wednesday that the inmates should not qualify for sentence-reduction credits because correction officials have the discretion to apply credits to those with life sentences.

An attorney for one inmate, Alford Jones, said the prisoners are not "lifers" because their sentences are only 80 years long. He said the inmates have been accruing credits over the years that can now be subtracted from that term limit.

Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand declined to rule until he heard arguments Friday in a similar case.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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