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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  • by fed up Location: aurora on Dec 20, 2009 at 10:22 AM
    life means life weather it's 20 or 80 years, if they are sentenced to life in prison then that's what they should get. I do disagree to the medical treatment they get. Why should they get preferential access to transplants that should be given to someone who can't afford it.I think those lawyers who fight so hard for the "rights" of a murderer should give the money they make off the trial to the victems family.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 10, 2009 at 08:02 AM
    The whold good behavior thing needs to be thrown out. Those people did not get sent to prison for good behavior. Some of these people are stuck in cells by them selves and only let out for an hour or so a day with no contact with other prisoners, kinda makes it hard for them to get in any trouble. Life in prison should equal the death penalty. You want free healthcare, free housing, free food, go to jail. And let the taxpayers pay for it.
  • by you Location: greenville,n.c. on Dec 9, 2009 at 05:22 PM
    HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER HAD A FAMILY MEMBER MURDER? WELL I HAVE AND BELIEVE ME IT'S WORTH IT TO KEEP THE LIFER BEHIND BAR. THEY DESERVE TO STAY BEHIND BARS AND NEVER GET OUT. WHOMEVER THE MURDER RAPE OR WHATEVER CAN'T COME BACK TO LIFE.THEY ARE IN HEaven.
  • by UP STATE Location: EASTERN NC on Dec 9, 2009 at 04:47 PM
    The purposes of prison sentences are to be use as a deterrence of committing crimes. Therefore once a person has made the choice to commit a crime there should be a penalty to pay, but we should remember prison are suppose to be a form of rehabilitation, not just a punishment. If the prison officials have the right to impose sentence reduction credits at their discretion then where does the problem come into play? The definition of discretion: “ability to make responsible decisions” “power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds”. Who allow these offenders/inmates to receive sentence reduction credits?
  • by Ted Location: Grimesland on Dec 9, 2009 at 02:46 PM
    Gman, this is an issue because these inmates were not sentenced under Fair Sentencing. This argument will not fly though, they were sentenced to life therefore they are lifers. The courts have already ruled they are ineligible for sentence credits. It will never happen, these convicts are going to stay right where they belong.
  • by Bill Location: Greenville on Dec 9, 2009 at 01:32 PM
    How stupid are our state officials. This should not even be an issue. Our governor who was a legislator and then lt governor should have seen this coming along with all the other legislators and stopped this years ago. I guess they were a bit busy with mr. jim black, and then governor easly, or on a fact finding trip to some exotic place.
  • by Tom Location: Goldsboro on Dec 9, 2009 at 01:01 PM
    This is simple, let's ask of William Turner, Sr., if he'd be okay with Alford Jones being released. Oh, that's right! Alford Jones gave William Turner, Sr., the death sentence in 1975.....
  • by lisa on Dec 9, 2009 at 11:47 AM
    Only in NC could something this stupid even be a possibility. Backwards state, backwards officials, backwards citizens. Of course the Deputy is going to say, I didn't tell them that, when he probably did. Leave interpretation of the law to those who are qualified to interpret it.
  • by Gman Location: Winterville on Dec 9, 2009 at 10:07 AM
    I can't believe this is even an issue. Under the Fair Sentencing Act of 1981 inmates sentenced to life were not eligible for any sentence reduction credits. They were not awarded good time or gain time. Life means life until the Parole board considers a person for being placed on parole.
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Dec 9, 2009 at 07:48 AM
    Why give this guy any glory by posting his picture and details of his crimes? You know our country's dignity is fading away when we make exceptions and give leniency toward this man. Do you want him out on our streets? with a 90% chance of sexually assaulting males or females while on drugs? Get rid of all bleeding heart Dem's and lawmakers who're changing the rules in our system!
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