Letter: Cooper should pardon three exonerated men

Published 10:02 am Sunday, December 19, 2021

In these final days of 2021, I am calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to pardon three men who have all been fully exonerated after being imprisoned many years for crimes they did not commit. They are Howard Dudley (15 years on death row), Michael Parker (20+ years) and Glen Edward Chapman (25 years). Without a full pardon from the governor, these men cannot receive compensation for the many years of their lives that been stolen from them.

Each man is owed hundreds of thousands of dollars that they need to re-start their lives. North Carolina is one of only four states that require a governor’s pardon to receive compensation, even after the person has been fully exonerated. Instead, they are given the usual $45 gate check all incarcerated people receive upon release.

For three months, North Carolinians from across the state have been protesting outside the Governor’s Mansion calling for these pardons. Why has Governor Cooper not responded? Is it money, or politics or fear that granting the pardons would draw attention to this state’s horrendous track record of wrongfully convicting people?

In this season of goodwill to all, I call on Governor Cooper to do the right thing and pardon these men so they can each move on with a productive life.

— Eileen Hanson-Kelly