Twenty murderers, rapists, and robbers sentenced to life in North Carolina prisons in the 1970s will be released this month as a result of recent court rulings, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Gov. Beverly Perdue said she was “appalled that the state of North Carolina is being forced to release prisoners who have committed the most heinous crimes, without any review of their cases.”
Most of the inmates are in their 50s and 60s; many were convicted years ago of gruesome crimes that might have kept them locked up longer today. One successfully petitioned courts to recognize that old laws defined a life sentence as 80 years, and that another law cut those sentences in half. Ten of those scheduled to be released were sex offenders, including men who raped young girls. Seven have spent time on death row. The one woman in the group was convicted of murdering a state trooper while fleeing a bank robbery.