RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's governor is refusing to release 20 of the state's violent offenders next week, saying legal issues involving credits for good behavior must be resolved first.
Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement Thursday that she questions whether prison officials had the authority to give the inmates the credits.
Those credits were thought to have shaved time off prison terms, allowing some inmates to be released because of a 1970s state law that limited so-called life sentences to 80 years. The law has since been changed.
Perdue and other officials have sought to keep the inmates behind bars since they lost a lawsuit brought by Bobby Bowden, a man sentenced to life in prison for killing two people in 1975. Most of the inmates to be released were convicted of rape or murder and few were to be supervised.
That's good news to Rick Ehrhart. Bowden murdered his mother, Norma, when Ehrhart was just 20 years old. "It's elation," he said. "It's the answer to our prayers...and we applaud her courage." Ehrhart says re-living the horror of her murder every year Bowden has been up for parole has been tramautic enough. "Then having to confront this, where it looked like they were going to see an unconditional release, no parole, no work release--nothing,"said Ehrhart. "That seemed like the worst. It was just horrific, the worst of all worlds."
The inmates will remain behind bars until the governor's challenge is heard in court.