12/10/09 — Here's why ... No, Alford Jones should not be released early. He took a life.

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Here's why ... No, Alford Jones should not be released early. He took a life.

It might have been about 30 years ago. He might have been a different person then.

And he might have been a model prisoner and earned good conduct points for his time served.

But Alford Jones should serve a life sentence for the murder of a Kinston insurance salesman because he took that man's life -- and there should be a severe penalty for that.

And it is a penalty that should not be mitigated by performing your prison duties well or not acting up in the exercise yard.

No matter how you look at it, Jones will not be able to completely atone for standing in front of a man and shooting him in the chest, simply to steal his hard-earned money.

He took the life of a man who had a family and who had a life he had not had a chance to live fully yet.

And that is a crime that does not deserve a second chance -- especially not when the original sentence probably would have been death had there not been another technicality.

A life sentence is a serious sentence. Juries and judges do not reach such conclusions lightly.

If by some twist of fate, the inmates who have managed to find a loophole in state law that allows them to escape such sentences early succeed, we need to make sure that there is no possibility that anyone else will be able to find such a loophole in the future.

In North Carolina, there ought to be crimes for which there is no reprieve -- and a law that makes certain that sentences that are just are carried out.

Alford Jones might succeed. He has a law on his side. But even if he is released early, we owe it to his victim to make sure he is watched and monitored closely so that a mistake does not become a tragedy.

It won't be justice, but it will a start.

Published in Editorials on December 10, 2009 10:42 AM