Saturday, September 11, 2010

Heather Holley - an appropriate and just resolution of her case

39 year-old Raleigh woman Heather Holley was recently booked in jail and saddled with 29 misdemeanor and felony charges with offenses including burglary, breaking into three homes, identity theft, and stealing mail, checks, passports, and other identifying information. She is also alleged to have went on a $1,800 shopping spree using a stolen credit card, and attempting to cash a $34,000 business check. One victim stated that Ms. Holley caused her added distress with postings on Craigslist that resulted in unwanted phone calls and knocks on her door. According to media reports she also tried to use the identity of two children to obtain health insurance benefits. These crimes had been carried out over a series of months, ending with her recent arrest.

Ms. Holley's initial bail was set at a whopping $5 million. At her first court appearance several days following her arrest, Ms. Holley told the judge that her bond was outside the legal guidelines for the charges with which she faced. So, the judge promptly raised her bail another $1 million to a total of $6 million. As referenced in a prior recent blog about Ms. Holley, a man charged with first degree murder had bail set at $1 million, one-fifth of Holley's original bail. However, to really illustrate the illogical disparity in the amount of bail being set in North Carolina, compare Holley's case to that of another North Carolina resident, Kristen Snipes.

Kristen Snipes, a 26 year-old Morrisville, NC woman, was recently charged with drunken-driving and having unsealed alcohol in the passenger area of her car. As a result, she had her driver's license revoked and was released to await trial for the DUI related offenses. However, the day following the revocation of her license, she was driving and struck a man on a bicycle from behind. Witnesses of the accident saw her flee the scene in her vehicle. The man was hospitalized for treatment of his injuries. The following day Ms. Snipes was apprehended outside the state of North Carolina... in South Carolina. She was returned to North Carolina where her charges now include DUI, driving with an open container of acohol, felony hit-and-run, and driving with a revoked license. Add to this, that she was arrested outside of the state of North Carolina. Her bail was set at only $26,000.

This is just one of many examples of North Carolina's system of selective justice based on Class and Color. There is no doubt that someone charged with murder should be given a higher bail than a non-violent thief. Also, someone who causes bodily injury while driving a vehicle on a revoked license should have a bail that is set much higher than a petty thief.

I refer to Holley as a small time thief because the financial amounts of her alleged crimes (from what was reported in the media) was less than a couple of thousand dollars. Compare this with the embezzlement of $5,000 by a 21 year-old employee from a Taco Bell franchise... his bail was $20,000. Another comparison is that of a former Durham County sheriff's lieutenant charged with 25 counts of embezzling nearly $100,000 from 2003 until 2009, embezzling drug evidence, felony obstruction, and felony possession of cocaine... his bail was set at a paltry $50,000 (one one-hundredth of that of Holley's initial bail). What makes crimes of the lieutenant more egregious than Ms. Holley's is that the sheriff's officer was in a position of public trust when he committed violations of the law.

Then consider the case of Durham's Somerhill Gallery president Joe Rowand. He fleeced consignment artists out of compensation they were due by pocketing the proceeds from the sale of their artwork and misleading artists into believing that their works had not yet sold. Artists are owed $270,000 on commissions from works sold as far back as 2002. Furthermore, while running the business into the ground, Rowand paid himself a monthly salary of $15,000 and his company owes more than $200,000 to its landlord, Scientific Properties. To protect himself, he has filed for Chapter 11 personal bankruptcy protection, making it extremely unlikely that the artists who were defrauded out of their commissions will ever be compensated. What, you may ask, is the bail for this man who is a combination of a small-time version of Bernie Madoff and CEO of AIG? Well, there is no bail (none, nada, zilch) because what he has done in ripping off hardworking artists for years is not considered a crime. In our capitalistic society it is called "doing business." In other words, a businessman can legally cheat people out of thousands of dollars and not even be charged with a crime. Are Joe Rowand's actions more despicable and criminal than Heather Holley's? Undoubtedly, yes. Just keep in mind that North Carolina is a state which follows the tenet of "selective justice based on Class and Color."

I do not believe that reasonable people possessing common sense would argue that the bail amount set for Heather Holley is absurd. It may even be possible, as Ms. Holley stated, that it is beyond the bounds of guidelines set for the charges against her. I am unfamiliar with specific law here, but my gut feeling is that she is correct on this point... in which case, the judge probably raised her bail from $5 million to $6 million out of pure spite.

The important issue to face is what direction to take now. Instead of continuing on this downward spiral, I would suggest that the justice system step back and consider taking the following avenue... one of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is a concept that is taught and widely promoted at Raleigh's Campbell University School of Law under Jon Powell. It consists of the following steps: 1) for the offender to admit responsibility for his/her actions; 2) for the offender to apologize to the victim; 3) for the offender to compensate the victim for his/her losses; and 4) for steps to be taken to prevent the re-occurence of the offense by the offender. In Ms. Holley's case, the scenario would play out as follows, under the supervision of a mediator: 1) Ms. Holley would meet with each of her victims (if they are agreeable, of course). She would admit her role in the offenses against the victims and offer her apologies. 2) She would re-pay the victims for financial losses, including interests for payments made over time. 3) To assure that Holley does not repeat her offenses, she would be placed under probation, she would undergo psychological evaluation (to rule out a mental cause for her sudden past criminal acts), and other non-malicious programs would possibly be instituted to monitor her. I have no objection to reasonable community service as a condition.

By following these principles of Restorative Justice the following benefits can be realized: 1) affording the victim of the most positive closure to a criminal event; 2) possibly salvaging the life of the offender; 3) freeing up space in correctional facilities for those requiring incarceration; and 4) saving hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

Proceeding down the current road, in which, if convicted on all charges could land Ms. Holley in prison for more than six decades, is detrimental for all involved and for society in general. For many traumatized victims, it is cathartic and healing to receive a sincere apology from the heart of the perpetrator of the crime. Even communicating and getting to know one another's circumstances and background can foster empathy. This has been supported by certain cases in which family members of murder victims communicated with the murderer and surprisingly even forgiven them for taking the life of their loved ones in certain instances. Heather Holley, who claims to have not been in trouble with the law prior to the current string of crimes, would spend a significant number of productive years locked behind bars, which would not offer much in the promise of rehabilitation. It would be yet another life, unnecessarily wasted in a warehousing mentality of the North Carolina justice system. Furthermore, in a country which leads the world in the percentage of its population incarcerated, it would free up prison space for those convicted of truly heinous and violent crimes. There would be less over-crowding in the correctional facilities, which would lead to less stress, fewer confrontations and fights among the prison population, and better control of inmates and compliance to rules. Finally, the cost to the taxpayer of seriously prosecuting and keeping Ms. Holley in prison amounts to more than the cost of sending her to get a college education. Housing people in prison is an extremely expensive proposition that politicians don't want to discuss or acknowledge for fear of the appearance of being "soft on crime." But the truth is that the state's budget crisis would not be as dire if those who did not deserve to be incarcerated were released and either monitored and/or placed on probation. Placing Ms. Holley in jail for years is taking money out of North Carolinians' wallets and decreasing funds available for social programs needed for the poor, ill, and disabled.

Now I'm not suggesting that Ms. Holley should go scott-free for the crimes which she committed, but I do not believe that she should be held under unreasonably high bail, and that she should be sentenced to an exceptionally lengthy sentence if convicted. Mitigating factors should be considered in her case, and not the desire for carrying out a vendetta against Holley because of the victims' standings. If warranted by evidence, prosecution should offer a fair and just plea deal before proceeding with a costly prosecution. Taking a fair, logical and humanitarian approach regarding the treatment of Ms. Holley would be in the best interests of society, and all involved. The only ones to suffer by taking this uplifting path would be the CEOs and fat-cats of corporations invested in building, operating, and maintaining the state's correctional facilities.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. I think I actually agree with Sid on this one -- in theory anyway. It seems highly unlikely in practice that Ms. Holley would be able to repay those she's stolen from however. Where would she get the money? I mean, if she HAD the money (or a job, etc)why steal in the first place?
You hiring, Sid?

Nifong Supporter said...


Anonymous said...
"Wow. I think I actually agree with Sid on this one -- in theory anyway. It seems highly unlikely in practice that Ms. Holley would be able to repay those she's stolen from however. Where would she get the money? I mean, if she HAD the money (or a job, etc)why steal in the first place?
You hiring, Sid?"


Actually I am retired, so won't be doing any hiring. Governor Perdue has hired a twice convicted murderess to work for the government, so she is a likely candidate to ask to hire Ms. Holley.


Some very interesting blogs coming up with links to stories which I think you will find interesting. Should be posted in a day or two, but the blog I am about to post deals with the case of inmate Timothy Helms and statements made by the editorial staff of "News & Observer."

Nifong Supporter said...

Just a note on the $6 million bail for Heather Holley. The American woman accused of spying in Iran had a bail of only $500,000... one twelth that of Ms. Holley who was accused of identity theft. Makes one think, eh?

Anonymous said...

Ah....So it's the responsibility of the government to find these people jobs. So it's ultimately the government that would be responsible for ensuring that Ms. Holley would be repaying the stolen money.

Do you honestly consider that "restorative justice"?

Anonymous said...

"Ms. Holley who was accused of identity theft"
Wrong.
Minimizing the number of charges against Ms Holley is a lie of OMISSION. Sid.
Of course by now no one expects to hear anything remotely truthful from you anyway.

Anonymous said...

I would point out the total amount of damage to her victims: $1,800 to Best Buy. $22 to Target. ID theft? there were never applications to anything, anywhere. Ask the victims what financial losses they had.

Anonymous said...

Trial? North Carolina law can hold you up to 24 months in JAIL prior to any trial. And they do. Add on 35 plus charges, 6 million dollars bail and they sit in jail awaiting the trial start. Guess what? ANYONE will plead guilty to anything, any amount of charges or any kind of charges if you get to go home on probation before trial. THIS IS CALLED JUSTICE? YOU"RE DAY IN COURT? They didn't let her out with reasonable bail because she would have taken it to trial if she got to wait at home with her famiy

Anonymous said...

I hope she will be back in jail,she will never stop what she started,she is very dangerous woman who is on the ran .as we speak..wish i could find her

Anonymous said...

Is she still on the run? Whatever happened? Was she convicted?

Anonymous said...

I have been meaning to comment for a few.years to.the poster October 2013, Alena Novotna, just because i have been.trying to escape your psychotic induced, rapist brother since 2007, and just because you decided.to make that post.at the.time you did because I was working with ATF regarding his gun selling from czech thru ports in NJ and Alabama thru California, and you were freaking out because you your mother and husband are illegal working without paying taxes all these years and your mother funneling the financial.transactions....doesnt mean pointing some random finger at me is justified. ESPECIALLY as your posting.came during the time again me and the kids were in hiding from him wanting to kill me...still mainly because i got away from him...that and the.fact that he insists.on.the."till.death.do us.part" sickness. Do you actuallybthink a random post.here might have lednsomeone to.find me so.he.could sexually assault me keep me locked up and impose his own.justice for me always trying to run from him, take the blame and keep my mouth shut?/alena. Your time is coming soon my.dear. All i needed.was.to finally escape hisnbrutality.

Anonymous said...

And alena..
From October 2013. Actuallyx this.entire blog is made.up.of highly intelligent regular posters. I myself actually took several hours really having to read and digest the general hypothesis.and comments stated.here (and.we although not the readers know.exactly.why i was.hunted down-). So your inbreeding shows when you...an "anonymous" poster claims I'm a "very.dangerous" "on the.run as.we.speak person" and you wish you could.find.me??? That makes sense to a two.year old. But thank you, it will be.very.helpful.with the.upcoming case.tp show.the.terrorism was spread even outside of him. Go back.to Doudleby. Hopefully soon.

Anonymous said...

Jeannie -part 2 of my tirade- i can be the most generous kind hearted, tolerate, forgiving person you would ever be likely to come across. MUCH ENHANCED.due.to the.fact of knowing.what.JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE IS. BUT when i am at my lowest, scared once again for my life from my husband, fighting a serious life ending disease, with no family or friends by my side...not because of.CRIME. And then have someone i was friends with 20+ years ago play up.some BS.concern for our safety...act like they.are.PSYCHIC with their something is wrong feeling when in.fact.they just.googled me 5 minutes.earlier...now you got me reminded once again of the worlds overload of hypocrites and self interested plebs.

Anonymous said...

At least i came out with some good stories, and in case i ever decide I was educated in how to make crystal meth lab setup, that trying to cheer up someone on suicide watch is possible to be.charged with murder if they choaked themselves to death with it, that knowing "nude" is not spelled "newd" means you are now considered the resident genius on all topics night day including from people yelling on other floors thru.their toilet bowl with the most basic knowledge, how a toothbrush and mouthwash is a prostitutes best friend, how to perform the cript gang.secret walk (and that adding "syncronized swimming to the.charde list.causes mass panic) how to smoke crack from a lightbulb, shoot up Liquid Niqual when your out.of heroin, deal with the Mexican drug lords in california, and how an ice pick doesnt work well In.trying to remove a chain from a solid frozen body- You do that before you stick them in your freezer. But you know what my old friend? I.certainly.can't.make a meatloaf as good as the one you posted online yesterday. And because I (actually different than SOME) am.cursed now with empathy...I can get it that after 20 years.this is juicy stuff...especially Heather Holley, I get.there is no connection, however I would trade places with you...and I don't see were i to.do so that I would have any more.concious thought of others situation and hell...probably would even offer a fake understanding or announce my heightened intuition levels...even if I knew that.was a lie...entertainment is entertainment.right? Beheading of a journalist....bring out the popcorn... Besides hearing from my husband all the time how I didn't love him enough...all that.was.ever.screamed was...you did (enter achievements) you brought down (enter bad guys/system) you think your better, smarter, but your just a FELON. half his rage is that he still feels inadequate. Thanks Mr. Harr- perhaps when I am not again going to an emergency Domestic Violence shelter and I have access to a computer you will let me edit my spelling, grammer and flow. Right now, that's about all I give a damn about :)

Jeanne C. said...

You are a delusional, psychotic piece of work. Crazy like a fucking fox

Jeanne C. said...

You are truly the victim.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Harr- thank you for being in touch. I am truly sorry that the timing was so off for me as to not be able to correspond further. I do so lool forward to collaborating in the future. About 9 hours after my last ranting post, I saw my husband not 10 feet from me. It was truly a blessing that I did not heed the advice of the local police department and stay in our residence with their assurance he was far out of state. Unfortunately because of that, there was an about face done and we will remain in an emergency safe house for the next several weeks. After thay time; with regular computer access & phone, I look forward to being in contact regularly. As for Ms. Jeanne C. - Thank you for the comments after my post/comment; ensuring my hunches to be correct. I am not sure when being correct made one delusional, but I am more than familiar with the aftermath and rages which are brought about when people are "called out" & caught in their own lies and games. Your reaction- quite commonplace & ordinary really.

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