North Carolina Governor Announces Formation of Juvenile Sentence Review Board
by Douglas Ankney
On April 8, 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced the formation of the North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board (“Review Board”). Governor Cooper referenced well-known facts, saying “[d]evelopments in science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds. For those who have taken significant steps to reform and rehabilitate themselves, this process can provide a meaningful opportunity for release and a life outside of prison.”
Executive Order 208 (“EO 208”) creates a four-person advisory board to review qualifying sentences imposed in North Carolina on defendants who were convicted and sentenced in adult courts for acts committed while juveniles under the age of 18.
The Review Board will conduct a comprehensive, individualized review based on criteria outlined in EO 208, to include rehabilitation and maturity demonstrated by the individual contrasted with developmental immaturity at the time the crime was committed; presence of adult co-defendant or accomplices; and mental health at the time of the crime. The Review Board will also consider input from the families of both the defendant and the victim; potential risk to society posed by defendant if released; and whether race had an undue influence on the trial or the sentencing. The North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board is a recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice which found that the group of people subject to EO 208 are disproportionately Black.
Qualifying individuals must have served at least 20 years of their sentence (or 15 years in cases of consecutive or “stacked” sentences) before petitioning for review. After the review, the Review Board will make recommendations for clemency or commutation where appropriate.
Sources: wcnc.com, nsjonline.com
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