Supreme Court: Lifers Should Serve Life Sentences

The North Carolina Supreme Court has reversed a lower court's ruling ordering the release of inmates sentenced to life in prison for murder, rape and other crimes in the 1970s when the law defined a life term as 80 years behind bars.

Friday's ruling will likely keep the prisoners in question locked up for the rest of their natural lives.

Inmates sentenced to life between 1974 and 1978 were ordered to serve 80 years, but had the opportunity to reduce that time by decades through credits earned for good behavior and productive work behind bars.

The Supreme Court ruled two years ago that those convicted of first-degree murder shouldn't be released, despite whatever credits they earned. The latest ruling applies to inmates whose offenses were below premeditated murder.

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