Governor clarifies stance on inmate release

November 3, 2009 4:17:08 AM PST
As Governor Bev Perdue fights to block the release of dozens of North Carolina prisoners with violent pasts, she is defending the release of a woman sentenced to life for murder.The woman worked in Perdue's office, while she was lieutenant governor.

Sally Holloman of Wayne County was convicted of murder, not once, but twice in the early 1980s.

Prosecutors said she poisoned her second husband by lacing his tea and hospital IV with arsenic.

But it was her second crime, the shooting death of a Johnston County businessman, that made headlines.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but the law at the time didn't allow for it.

After two decades serving a life sentence, she was set free.

When Eyewitness News asked Perdue if she was instrumental in the parole of Holloman when she was lieutenant governor she said, "Sally Holloman came to me to work in my office officially on a DOC - Department of Correction - sanctioned work release program. She was followed. She had come up for parole many times."

Holloman has since been let out on parole for nearly four years.

"Sally is working now in the private sector, making good money," Perdue said. "She is an older woman who I believe is very well supervised."

"But, I do believe that folks who are on parole, who are monitored and supervised can indeed participate in the community because there's always a set of rules," she added. "There's always a set of parameters. So nobody's out there a free agent."

For the governor, Holloman's case and the 27 offenders she's fighting to keep behind bars, there is no comparison.

A recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling says North Carolina laws in the 1970s set a life sentence at 80 years. Prisoners sentenced then are arguing that with time off for good behavior and other reductions, they've paid their debts to society and should be set free.

"Totally different from what we're talking about now," Perdue said. "I'm talking about people who were on death row. Who were taken off death row by the courts. Who are just determined for whatever reason to be let go. No supervision. No oversight in your neighborhood. And that's what I find so heinous.

The inmates were supposed to be released last Thursday. But under the governor's order, the Department of Correction continues to hold them. Only one of the inmates waiting to be released would be supervised.

Click here for more information on each inmate (.pdf)

"In this state, life was intended to mean life and with all due respect to the courts, I really hope and pray they think this through a second time, because it's the wrong thing to happen in our state," Perdue said.

She said she is challenging the good behavior credits that would allow them to be freed. The issue is whether the credits were given correctly.

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