North Carolina Citizens for
Felony Murder Rule Change (NCCFMRC) is a grassroots
citizens movement which sprang up in response to the
sentencing on July 29, 2002 of Janet Danahey, a 23 year-old
Greensboro woman whose intended prank of burning a box of
party decorations outside her former boyfriend's College
Walk apartment ultimately caused the deaths of four young
adult apartment residents.
Click on Janet Danahey to learn details of this tragic and important case.
We know you are busy and we want as little of your time as possible. We have made it easy for you to add your voice to hundreds, we hope eventually thousands, of other North Carolinians to ensure justice for present and future generations.
We hope to persuade state legislators to repeal or at least amend the felony murder rule so that there are greater options for sentencing. Currently there are only two felony murder penalties in North Carolina: life without parole and death. NCCFMRC seeks to extend sentencing options in accordance with other NC murder laws and make sentences proportional to the actual crimes.
As we all know, someone can deliberately shoot and kill another human being and walk out of prison in sometimes less than ten or fifteen years.
However, if prosecuted under the felony murder rule, a defendant who never intended to kill anyone, and in many cases was not even near where a death occurred and did no harm to anyone, can be sentenced to death or life in prison without possibility of parole.
Prosecutors have discretion. The felony murder rule did not have to be used against Janet Danahey. She could have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, which was really the case. She likely would have had to spend fifteen years in prison on the arson charge alone. Existing laws other than the felony murder rule would have done the prosecutorial job just fine.
NCCFMRC is in no way a "soft on crime" movement. Quite the contrary, we wish to have all deaths prosecuted in a manner proportionate to the actual crime. North Carolina has an abundance of murder and other felony laws to adequately cover any possible situation, and with stiff penalties under the structured sentencing law, convicts must serve at least the minimum sentences without possibility of parole.
This is not a petition drive. Petitions are sometimes easily dismissed by legislators.
What does get legislators' attention are original letters, not form letters, from their constituents. And the most powerful influence of all is a personal visit from constituents. Thus, our approach to the legislature is one of letter-writing and visitation. See the How You Can Help section on this web site.
Being realistic, all of us who involve ourselves in this quest must understand that it will in all likelihood take a long, protracted effort before we are successful. However, by having a very tightly organized and well-communicated citizens' effort, we hope to succeed in having changes made to the felony murder rule in a shorter period of time than it might be otherwise.