The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

August 18, 2013

Alabama needs to rethink punishment for non-violent crimes

The Daily Home, Talladega, Ala., on re-thinking punishment for non-violent crime is a no-brainer:

If U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and members of Alabama's Republican controlled legislature are in agreement on something, it must be a really good idea.

That's why we hope the initiatives by both will be successful in taming prison populations in both the federal prison system and in state prisons.

According to a report recently released by Bureau of Justice Statistics, both the federal prison system and Alabama state prisons have seen an increase in their number of inmates, bucking the national trend of decline.

Both are also over capacity. Alabama has incarcerated more than twice as many people as its prisons were designed to hold. That's 31,000 inmates, with a system designed to house 14,000.

Part of the problem has been the "War on Drugs" bandwagon, which has been popular with politicians for decades. The get-tough, throw-away-the-key rhetoric allowed penalties to be piled on so much over the years that we're being forced to have a new discussion over better solutions.

Even the profoundly conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., backs Holder's proposals. ...

In Alabama, new sentencing guidelines were approved, but the Alabama District Attorneys Association and the lobbying group Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL) aren't pleased. They are pushing for more input from crime victims in deciding on sentencing, and for the ability to use the threat of prison as a means to obtaining plea deals and avoiding the time and expense of having trials.

They want to revisit the law with legislators, and we think that's a good thing.

Our justice system doesn't claim to be perfect, and it's only through continual refinement that it can be improved. Locking up dangerous criminals to protect the public is a no-brainer.

Continuing the conversation about what to do with non-violent criminals is the right thing to do.

1
Text Only
Opinion
Poll

What is your favorite Easter candy?

Chocolate bunnies
Marshmallow chicks
Chocolate eggs with filling
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee