RALEIGH, N.C. - Earlier today, Governor Roy Cooper granted pardons of innocence to five people wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit. Those receiving pardons were Ronnie Wallace Long, Teddy Lamont Isbell, Sr., Damian Miguel Mills, Kenneth Manzi Kagonyera, and Larry Jerome Williams, Jr.
Since November 4, there has been an ongoing Vigil for Freedom and Racial Justice outside of the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh held by members of the Decarcerate Now NC Coalition, of which the ACLU of North Carolina is a part. The vigil calls upon Governor Cooper to use his executive authority to grant clemency, pardons, and sentence commutations to people who are currently incarcerated.
Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the ACLU of North Carolina Campaign for Smart Justice, issued the following statement after the Governor announced the pardons:
“We applaud the Governor’s actions granting pardons of innocence to Ronnie Long and four other people who were convicted of crimes that they did not commit. In Mr. Long’s case, he lost 44 years that he can never get back. It is impossible to fully right that wrong, but today’s pardon will help those pardoned move forward with their lives.
“However, more can and must be done by Governor Cooper. The people of North Carolina are looking for leadership in dismantling the racist criminal legal system, a system that he has played a role in creating during the past three decades that he has held elected office.
“With more than 30,000 people currently incarcerated in state prisons, we urge the Governor to use his executive powers further to allow redemption for those who deserve another chance and to redeem a system that continues to have a disparate impact on people of color. We have every hope that Governor Cooper will recognize the responsibility and power he has to address the inequities found in our state’s criminal legal system and take further action to decarcerate North Carolina.”