This week’s bad bill of the week is actually two bills that when combined together, will create a new criminal sentencing schedule that dramatically reduces the prison lengths of future felons. SB 488 passed the N.C. House on Aug. 10 by a 61-52 vote and the Senate on July 15 by a 23-22 margin. Similarly, SB 489 passed on the same days by votes of 61-53 and 24-22, respectively. Both bills have been signed into law by Gov. Perdue.
SB 488 will reduce individual sentence lengths for most felony convictions. For example, a person convicted of a B1 felony (1st degree rape), who had previously committed multiple small crimes, would receive a 9-12 month lesser sentence under this bill.
SB 489 will shift prior criminal record point levels so that more habitual criminals will now fall into lesser sentence classifications, resulting in much shorter prison sentences.
For example, a person who has one prior penalty point (a minor felony conviction) who commits 1st degree rape prior to December 1, would receive a sentence of 230-288 months. The very next day, the punishment for that person will be 192-240 months – about 3-4 years lesser of a sentence.
So criminals now have an incentive to wait a couple of months to commit their crimes and receive lesser sentences. Isn’t that a great message to be sending?
For giving violent repeat felons less time in prison, this week’s bad bill of the week is SB 488 and SB 489.