North Carolina officials will be encouraged to parole more inmates under a new law that went unnoticed by some law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups, reports the Associated Press. A state budget law says the Parole Commission should make a good faith effort to parole at least 20 percent of the eligible inmates who were sent to prison before structured sentencing guidelines took effect in 1994. The goal has been to parole 10 percent of those eligible from that pool of inmates. Rep. Ronnie Sutton, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the law will help make more room in prisons by releasing inmates who have served longer sentences than those being imposed under newer laws.
Of the state’s 36,900 inmates, 3,749 inmates were imprisoned before the sentencing guidelines took effect in 1994. Several lawmakers said they did not know the parole provision was in the budget. “Where’d that come from?” asked Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand when shown a copy of the law.