Governor defends parole stance

November 5, 2009 6:00:09 PM PST
A week ago, 27 violent offenders were supposed to go free.Governor Bev Perdue continues to block their release. Yet, she admits she may have helped a twice-convicted killer and former work-release employee win parole years ago.

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Sally Holloman, a former work release prisoner was paroled in 2005. Holloman shot and killed a Selma businessman and fatally poisoned her second husband.

As part of the parole process, Holloman got a positive work evaluation from her employer and then lieutenant governor Perdue.

But one of the nearly 30 inmates vying for release has a similar situation.

Work release prisoner Faye Brown is also a convicted killer. Brown was in the getaway car of an accomplice who shot a state trooper.

However, under a new court ruling, Perdue is blocking Brown's release.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to play ever card in the deck to keep these prisoners in jail," Perdue said.

Perdue stands firm that there's no comparison between the cases and the difference is supervision.

"Sally was evaluated by the parole system, came to me from Gov. Hunt's office as part of a work release program, (she) is monitored now and is on parole now," Perdue said. "She is not running around North Carolina unsupervised. She's got a plan and if the plan doesn't work, her bottom goes back to jail."

While Perdue hasn't called for a special legislative session, if she did critics warn that could be a problem.

"I do know if there was a session what kind of legislation I would ask for," Perdue said. "I have a staff working on that."

So Eyewitness News asked Perdue Thursday whether that legislation would involve supervised parole.

"I'm not going to say what I'm going to do," Perdue said. "I mean I don't know what I'm going to do, I'm taking one step at a time. Right now, I'm trying to keep them in prison until there is a parole process in place."

Her legal team is working overtime, preparing its court argument for why the inmates haven't earned enough good behavior credits to go free.

"You can't retroactively penalize people who've already finished their sentence," said Jennifer Rudinger with American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU leaders say changing the terms of the inmates release after the fact would raise serious constitutional concerns, so would changing the law to keep them in jail.

"That violates due process and the constitution requires that the executive branch uphold the law as it was written not as they wish it was written," Rudinger said.

Perdue says her focus is battling the issue out of court. She says she wants this resolved before Christmas.

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