12/15/09 — Prevention: Who knows if we can fix this mess, but we can stop another

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Prevention: Who knows if we can fix this mess, but we can stop another

There is going to be a lot of teeth-gnashing about what could very likely end up being the release of several inmates whose good behavior credits have taken care of their life sentences.

And while Gov. Bev Perdue can be as shocked as she wants -- just as her constituents are -- she can really do nothing about a law that was passed years ago by a group of legislators whose short-sightedness could not have been predicted in the 1970s.

What we need to do now is to find out how this happened -- and there are several reasons why.

First off, there will be people who need someone to blame -- and if fault is to be found, it should be laid at the feet of the ignoramuses who came up with this gem.

The governor inherited this bit of brilliance -- and she and the state attorney general and the lawyers who are involved in the case are not responsible for this mess.

And, honestly, they might not be able to make it right, no matter what they do.

We also need to understand how this happened for another reason: to make sure it never happens again.

State legal experts need to comb through the law to make sure there are no more loopholes or antiquated laws that will put even more killers back on the streets.

We might not be able to stop this mess -- although it looks like the state is going to give it everything it has -- but we can make sure no victim is ever disrespected like this again.

And finally, we need to learn a lesson from this mess -- about why whom we elect is so important. A seemingly insignificant decision can turn into something we have to live with for generations. Careful attention to the boxes we check and the positions of the candidates we elect is critical. That's how we make sure laws like this do not slip through ever again.

Published in Editorials on December 15, 2009 10:15 AM