In North Carolina, scores of innocent residents are being toted off to jail and kept there. A USA Today investigation shows that more than 60 men who have been sent to prison for violating gun possession statutes haven’t even been convicted properly. According to the research, the courts have not determined whether or not it was a federal crime for these men to have a gun, and yet they are serving a federal sentence for toting one. One of these men, an Elizabethtown, North Carolina resident named Terrell McCullum says that he didn’t commit a crime when he carried a shotgun and a rifle out of his ex-girlfriend’s house. Yet the courts didn’t agree, and he was locked away with all of the other gun possession law offenders.
This debate has made its way all the way up to the U.S. Justice Department, where the department declared that McCullum is innocent. And yet that might not be enough proof to set him free. Many of these unjustly imprisoned men are not even aware that they should not be in prison. According to
USA Today, the legal issues in these cases are very complicated, and they are unique to North Carolina. Apparently the men went to prison for violating a federal law that says that it is illegal for convicted felons to possess a gun. Each of the men that were carrying a gun and were caught did have criminal records, but the U.S. Justice Department says that the crimes that they committed in the past weren’t serious enough to be felonies.
Yet the Justice Department says that it is not their job to inform prisoners that they are unjustly incarcerated, and they feel that they still need to comply with federal laws that put limits on how people can challenge their convictions in court. One criminal defense attorney in the area says that she is doing everything she can to free the men. This situation has led to many debates as far as the court’s position on a wrongful conviction. While they battle back and forth, the 60 men wait in jail, hoping that they will be freed from serving their unjust sentence.