Gov. Cooper announces North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board

RALEIGH — On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that a “North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board” has been formed by an executive order.

Executive Order 208 created a four-person advisory board panel that will review prison sentences for individuals who were tried and sentenced in adult criminal court for acts committed before turning 18. The North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board (NCJSR) will make sentencing commutation or clemency recommendations to the governor on those cases.

“Developments in science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds,” Cooper said in a press statement. “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.”

In order to petition the review board, individuals must “have served at least 20 years of their sentence, or at least 15 years in certain instances of consecutive or “stacked” sentences.”

The panel will consider the individual’s prison record, factors suggesting developmental immaturity at the time the crime was committed, presence of an adult co-defendant and/or accomplices, and the petitioner’s mental health at the time of the crime. The panel will also consider input from the family of the petitioner as well as that of the victim(s), whether or not a petitioner is a risk to society if released and if race had an undue influence on the trial or the sentencing.

The formation of the NCJSR comes from a recommendation made to Cooper the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.

The NCJSR panel members include two men and two women.

State Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) as Chair. Morey was appointed by Democratic former Gov. Jim Hunt to be the Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Juvenile Crime and Justice to reform North Carolina’s juvenile justice system in 1998. She is also a current member of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.

Also on the panel is former legislator and attorney Mickey Michaux Jr., who also a Democrat. He is the longest-serving member of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Attorney Thomas G. Walker, former Special Counsel to Cooper when he was attorney general, has also been picked to serve on the NCJSR. Walker is currently a partner at Alston & Bird. He has also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The second female on the panel is Allyson K. Duncan, a Republican and former judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as well as the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Appointed in 2003 by former President George W. Bush, Duncan was the Fourth Circuit’s first black female judge.

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A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_