Court ruling is appalling

Published 9:55 am Thursday, October 22, 2009

The judge bangs the wooden gavel across the bench and announces the sentence – life in prison without parole.

Perhaps one would think those words mean the person convicted of a heinous crime will spend the rest of their days here on Earth locked securely behind bars…never again given an opportunity to inflict pain, suffering and, in some cases, death on their victims.

This scenario is a comforting fact in many states across our nation. Unfortunately, North Carolina is no longer among that listing.

It was announced last week that the North Carolina Supreme Court opted not to overturn a lower court’s ruling that will free 20 convicted criminals currently serving “life” behind bars. The state now recognizes a life sentence as 40 years. When these 20 were incarcerated, it was 80 years.

Among those to soon walk free among law-abiding citizens is Faye Beatrice Brown, incarcerated in 1977 for her hand in the 1975 brutal murder of North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Tom Davis of Windsor. For his effort to “protect and serve” the public, Trooper Davis was shot in the face at point-blank range.

Included in the list of soon-to-be ex-convicts are nine murderers and 10 rapists. Two of the sexual assaults involved young girls under the age of 12.

What’s the purpose of handing down a life sentence when the convicted criminal stands a better than average chance of living longer than their punishment?

What about the families of those victimized in these crimes? Their pain is never-ending. Their pain is now compounded by knowing the person who scarred their lives forever is now free to walk among them.

Justice may be blind, but it doesn’t have to be deaf and dumb as well.

We urge our state judicial officials to reconsider this decision. Life behind bars should mean exactly what it implies.