Jimmy Carter was midway through his presidency when Raymond Lee Parker of Durham, N.C., went behind bars for robbing a woman of $173 at a bakery. That is 27 years, eight months and seven days ago, says the Raleigh News & Observer. He and other North Carolina convicts were sentenced under an old system. His punishment is harsher than some convicts now receive for killing somebody.
Parker, 53, has been turned down for parole for 17 consecutive years. Now he has aksed a judge to put aside his sentence — 40 years to life — for a crime that would bring him no more than 13 years and eight months today. District Attorney Mike Nifong argued against release, saying putting aside the sentence would open the door for others to argue for changes, too. Sixty people in North Carolina prisons with armed robbery as their most serious offense have been incarcerated for more than 25 years. All were convicted before the 1981 “fair sentencing” law took effect.