Nearly two dozen inmates convicted of violent crimes are about to be released from state prisons, even though they were originally sentenced to either death or life in jail.
"The full implications of what the ruling meant didn't hit home until we started seeing the list of names of people who'd be released because of this decision," said Chrissy Pearson, Gov. Bev Perdue's spokeswoman.
The convicts include rapists, murders and cop killers.
"These are violent criminals who've come up for parole multiple times and denied multiple times," said Pearson.
Among the 20 inmates are seven whose crimes were so horrendous, they were once held on death awaiting execution.
"The state is poised to release a group of offenders who are a threat to every man, woman and child in North Carolina," contends Thomas Bennett, the executive director of the North Carolina Victims Assistance Network.
This comes about after inmate Bobby Bowden argued that a 1974 law defined a life sentence as 80 years. The inmate convicted of two murders said that statute, combined with good conduct credits he earned while in jail meant he should walk.
The North Carolina Supreme Court agreed and now the state's chief executive trying to stop it.
"The governor is doing all she can to pursue legal action to prevent this from happening," said Pearson.
Faye Brown, 56, is among those who will be freed.
In 1977, she killed a state trooper following a bank robbery.
Troopers are livid.
Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said in a prepared statement, "The highway patrol is displeased with the ruling. Faye Brown murdered trooper Guy Davis in cold blood and she should serve the sentence that was handed down to her at trial."
"This has got to stop. Victims don't get any consideration," said Bennett.
But, it's more than consideration for victims say advocates.
There's real and emotional danger ahead for victims they claim.
"Many victims will relive the horrors inflicted upon them when these inmates are released so victims need to be aware to cope with that," said Bennett.
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