Governor Cooper Commutes Sentences and Issues Pardons of Forgiveness

Governor Cooper Commutes Sentences and Issues Pardons of Forgiveness

Governor Cooper commuted the sentences of six people in North Carolina prisons and granted pardons of forgiveness to four others including two from Wayne County. These commutations and pardons follow an intensive review of cases, including the circumstances of the crimes, length of the sentences, records in prison, and readiness to reenter communities successfully after prison. Two commutations resulted from recommendations by the Juvenile Sentence Review Board, which the Governor established to review petitions from people sentenced to prison after crimes committed while they were under the age of 18.

All of the clemency applications were reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency, the Office of General Counsel and the Governor.

“Ensuring fairness in our justice system through executive clemency is a responsibility I take seriously,” said Governor Cooper. “We carefully consider research and recommendations made by the Juvenile Sentence Review Board to commute sentences for crimes committed by minors. All of these individuals are deserving of clemency and we will continue to work to protect our communities and improve the fairness of our justice system.”

Kolanda Wooten, 37, who has served 19 years in prison for her role at age 17 in the murder of Jamaal Rashaud Pearsall in Wayne County. While incarcerated, Ms. Wooten has been consistently employed and has completed professional classes. Her sentence was commuted to time served.

Cathy Grimes, 67, who was convicted of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine in Wayne County in 1979 received a pardon of forgiveness. Ms. Grimes was 23 years old when the offense was committed. She has worked as a nurse for many years and is licensed in Maine and New York.

A pardon of forgiveness reflects the State’s recognition that an individual is forgiven for a past crime and may relieve the recipient from collateral consequences of the past conviction.