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Sunday, August 30, 2009

North Carolina's Habitual Felon Act

North Carolina has an equivalent to "Three Strikes, You're Out". The Habitual Felon law was enacted in 1967, but wasn't used on a regular basis until the 1990's. Under the Act, a habitual felon is a person who has committed three or more felonies with each felony being committed after conviction of the previous felony. Here is a link to an article that highlights the problems with the law:
http://www.newsobserver.com/2979/story/1558666.html

This article explains how a three time offender who breaks into a parking meter or has a crack pipe with residue can be punished the same as a rapist. Recently, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist wrote an article in the Charlotte Observer stating he was forming a team of prosecutors to specifically evaluate each case that qualifies for habitual felon status. Prosecutors would evaluate each case in an attempt to prevent the thief from being punished the same as a rapist. Here is the link to the article:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/story/664056.html

Sounds like a good place to start. With the Observer reporting that 200 inmates were sleeping on the floor of the jail due to overcrowding and the court system overloaded with new cases, dockets full, something needs to change.

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