The coming New Year brings with it many changes. Among them are the end of the current North Carolina governor’s term of office and the swearing in of her successor. For some who previously faced criminal charges, it also represents a traditional opportunity to press forward with their pardon requests. The current governor has a last chance now to decide to act on over 50 pardon requests currently on her desk, or to decline to do so.
One prominent case up for review is that of a group of former prisoners known as the Wilmington 10. Long ago, in 1972, most of them were convicted on accusations of using incendiary devices to burn property and further allegations that they conspired to attack emergency responders with firearms. These criminal convictions were tossed out by judges on a federal appeals court eight years later.
At stake for the Wilmington 10 is a little more than the principle of the thing. A decision by the outgoing governor to grant them pardons on the basis of innocence would make them eligible for job training program assistance as well as $50,000 in compensation for each year they served in prison before their convictions were thrown out.
Another pending pardon request came from a 74-year-old man who served 23 days on a road work crew in 1957 on charges of tampering with a car. He says that he was actually innocent and did not participate in the attempt to steal parts from the vehicle, but was simply in the company of two men who did commit the crime when they were arrested by police. He hopes that, after 55 years, the governor helps him to clear his name.
The outgoing governor has until Jan. 5 to act on these and numerous other pardon requests.
Source: Star News Online, “More than 50 pardons on Perdue’s desk as term ends,” Patrick Gannon, Dec. 15, 2012
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