NC Senator leaving for another job

November 5, 2009 10:54:18 AM PST
Governor Bev Perdue has appointed Senator Tony Rand to head the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, is stepping down from the state Senate after nearly three decades.

It was announced Wednesday that he will assume his new role by early next year.

The governor says Rand's legal and political background, makes him a good choice for heading the state parole commission and Rand agrees.

"I think the governor is very interested in making sure there is strong leadership there," Rand said.

Rand was a criminal lawyer and prosecutor long before he was a state senator.

"I really wanted someone who I knew was a tough nut to crack, someone who was bold," Perdue said. "Tony Rand just doesn't do what is right, he does what is unpopular because it's the right thing."

Rand will replace Charles Mann, who is retiring into a part-time position.

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission is responsible for releasing offenders who meet eligibility requirements and establishing conditions for post-release supervision. Members advise the governor on clemency matters. The commission has three members, each serving a four-year term. All members are appointed by the governor.

Rand will leave the Senate by the end of the year. He says he is leaving, because it's time.

"The end of the last session this was really a tough session and with the end of that and wanting to do some new things I thought this would be a good time," Rand said.

The 70-year-old was first appointed to the state Senate in 1981, ran for lieutenant governor in 1995 and helped pushed through the state lottery.

"Sen. Rand served the people of Cumberland County and the state with great distinction in the Senate and he will continue to do so as a member of the parole board," Speaker Joe Hackney said in a statement Wednesday. "He has dedicated many years of his life to making North Carolina better, most especially by working to provide quality and affordable higher education to all."

Rand's new role comes as Perdue is fighting to keep 27 violent inmates behind bars.

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 now arguing that with time off for good behavior and other reductions, they have paid their debts to society and should be set free.

But under the governor's order, the Department of Correction continues to hold them.

As parole commission chairman Rand says one of his top issues will the state Supreme Court ruling to free the nearly two dozen convicted murders and rapists.

"We are going to try and be judicious and going to look at what's in the best interest of North Carolina," Rand said.

When Eyewitness News asked Rand if he thought the inmates should be released he said, "I would not want to prejudge that I know some of them, and I feel society is better served with them being where they are, but I don't know all of them so I cannot make any kind of broad statement."

As for his legacy as a state senator, Rand says he wants to be remembered as someone who enjoyed the politics, being in the Senate, and hopefully making it little better.

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