Gov. Bev Perdue is taking flak over an annual holiday party for the inmates who work at the Executive Mansion.
WTVD-TV first reported that Perdue appeared at a holiday party at the mansion in which a group of 18-20 inmates, some convicted of murder, were in attendance.
The festive event is in contrast to Perdue's tough talk over a different group of inmates who are seeking release from their life sentences. Perdue has said those inmates, lifers convicted of violent offenses, are a danger to society.
"The important distinction is that the governor supports the system that reviews an inmate's record and makes a determination about his or her readiness to re-enter society," said Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson. "The court rulings would have allowed these people out without that review."
In October, two inmates got into an altercation at the mansion, Pearson said. They were immediately removed and have not been back.
"The trustees who work with the mansion are heavily supervised. They go through a rigorous selection process before they even get there," Pearson said. "Their presence at the mansion is a part of their rehab. They are learning important skills."
The inmates have been helping with the holiday season tours of the mansion during which 6,000 guests have been through the building, Pearson said. The tradition of throwing a party to thank the inmates for their work started in the 1980s.
The event didn't cost taxpayers anything. During the year, the mansion is available for private receptions and fees from those events paid for the party.