Governor Beverly Perdue has tried to block their release despite a high court ruling that said that prisoners sentenced to life under a 1970s law had to serve 80 years. The prisoners say with time off for good behavior that should be cut by as much as half.
Two inmate hearings are scheduled for this week. The first got underway at the Wayne County courthouse in Goldsboro Wednesday.
Inmate Alford Jones - a convicted killer - is asking a judge to set him free. But state attorneys argue that good time behavior rules were never meant for inmates serving life sentences. They also say the Department of Corrections doesn't have the discretion to give the credits.
Defense attorneys spent Wednesday grilling Department of Corrections officials - asking if the state flip-flopped on its decision to release the inmates because of pressure from the Governor.
Another hearing is set for Friday in Wake County for convicted murderer Faye Brown - a woman serving time in the shooting death of a state trooper.
Decisions in the cases are not expected right away.