Attorney General Steve Marshall on violent crime in Alabama: 'Enough Is Enough'

Op-Ed by Attorney General Steve Marshall

Posted: Nov 19, 2019 3:04 PM

Violent Crime in Alabama: Enough Is Enough

Op-Ed by Attorney General Steve Marshall

Kamille McKinney. Aniah Blanchard. Sloan Harmon.

Over the last six weeks, the people of Alabama have been confronted with a frightening reality that very few of our politicians have been willing to acknowledge: our state has a violent crime problem.

Don’t believe me?

Violent crime in Alabama is up 20% over the last ten years, despite some improvement over the past year. We have the seventh-highest murder rate in the nation and FBI data indicates that we are the fifth most violent state in the nation. Let that sink in. The kidnapping and murder of a three-year-old, the abduction of a bright college student, and the cold-blooded killing of a 20-year-old National Guardsman—in light of these statistics, these incidents don’t seem quite as unforeseen, do they?

But who is talking about it?

In Alabama, and across the country, “enlightened” reformists only want to talk (or get paid to talk) about the plight of the criminal. They tell stories about what life is like for those behind bars, but conspicuously fail to mention the crimes that landed the prisoners there in the first place—the havoc they wreaked on a community, the sense of security they took away from the innocent, the parents and siblings they left heartbroken.

The activists would also have you believe that our prisons are full of peaceful pot smokers and inadvertent thieves. But, of course, that is false. Alabama’s prisons are full of violent offenders—4,200 murderers, 2,500 violent robbers, 1,000 rapists, over 1,200 would-be murderers, and the list goes on. The imprisoned “nonviolent” offenders are mostly those that simply refuse to stop stealing or dealing drugs or will not follow the terms of their probation. Only 21% of those in our prisons have committed “low-level” felonies and those offenders aren’t staying long—there’s just always a new offender waiting to fill the spot.

Traditionally, incarceration serves four purposes: retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, and incapacitation. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten the common denominator of all four purposes, and that is public safety. If a disproportionate fixation on any one of these four (like rehabilitation, for instance)

leads to decreased public safety, then we are doing it wrong. I fear that that is precisely where Alabama is headed.

For those who think that “criminal justice reform” has a nice political ring to it, let’s examine the most recent reform package to become law—the FIRST Step Act, passed by the U.S. Congress. At the time of passage, the Republican-led Congress was so smitten with the tepid media acclaim surrounding its “progressive” efforts that it refused to heed the warnings of law enforcement and prosecutors from around the country. Now, only one year after passage, we are left wondering what exactly Congress took a “first step” towards? Gang members and other violent offenders have been set free and lives have already been lost as a direct result of the new federal law. [A note of thanks is due to Senator Shelby and all of Alabama’s Congressional Republicans who wisely voted against the final bill.] We must ardently oppose similar efforts in Alabama and, believe me, they are coming.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan recognized that, “for too long, the victims of crime have been the forgotten persons of our criminal justice system.” It was true then, and sadly, it has become true again. The pendulum in Alabama has swung too far. We have a very real violent crime problem and it won’t be solved by incessantly watering down sentences, expanding extracurricular activities in our prisons, doing away with the death penalty, or, most shamefully, ignoring victims of crime. If we believe that our citizens deserve better than the dangerous lawlessness of today, we must reevaluate our logic and our priorities when it comes to criminal justice. Enough is enough.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19938351
Mobile13507293
Montgomery8866185
Tuscaloosa8837118
Madison798179
Shelby607449
Lee597161
Baldwin560650
Marshall397543
Calhoun355644
Etowah354845
Morgan333428
Houston293921
Elmore271948
DeKalb244321
St. Clair235936
Walker235485
Talladega217830
Limestone214420
Cullman191920
Dallas179826
Franklin179130
Autauga178727
Russell17683
Lauderdale175133
Colbert167726
Blount162115
Escambia161624
Jackson159712
Chilton159530
Covington140727
Dale140344
Coffee13716
Pike121611
Chambers117542
Tallapoosa117185
Clarke110316
Marion97529
Butler91740
Barbour8867
Winston75013
Marengo72620
Pickens67014
Randolph66613
Lowndes65927
Bibb65810
Hale64928
Geneva6444
Lawrence63425
Cherokee61713
Bullock60714
Clay5918
Monroe5908
Washington56012
Crenshaw54332
Perry5426
Conecuh53911
Wilcox53211
Henry5105
Macon48318
Fayette4689
Sumter43719
Cleburne3945
Lamar3822
Choctaw35112
Greene30515
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 194611

Reported Deaths: 2420
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31097466
Davidson26797311
Hamilton963495
Knox960579
Rutherford945290
Williamson536636
Sumner489598
Wilson356247
Putnam336541
Montgomery313344
Unassigned30444
Madison299265
Out of TN297727
Bradley297217
Sevier266415
Blount256324
Maury242725
Washington235538
Robertson223939
Sullivan223133
Hamblen194828
Tipton184519
Gibson172624
Trousdale16697
Hardeman158426
Wayne15015
Dyer142017
Bedford137317
Dickson128015
Coffee127713
Fayette122719
Cumberland121919
Weakley121620
Anderson121013
Obion120211
Loudon11996
Henderson119125
Carter118028
Greene116946
McMinn116325
Jefferson114414
Lawrence108913
Warren10777
Macon106721
Monroe106618
Hardin105516
Lauderdale100316
Haywood99821
Franklin99410
Lake9252
McNairy92518
Carroll91320
Roane9126
Bledsoe8624
White85510
Rhea85413
Hawkins82720
Cheatham8199
Marshall7815
Overton7706
Cocke75310
Smith74011
Johnson7323
Chester65011
Giles64417
Lincoln6331
Henry6309
Hickman6008
DeKalb57414
Marion5518
Fentress5463
Crockett54419
Decatur5347
Campbell4614
Claiborne4455
Polk40710
Grainger3943
Union3762
Benton3418
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3176
Cannon2950
Unicoi2911
Humphreys2673
Sequatchie2441
Clay2355
Houston2343
Meigs2323
Stewart2212
Scott2192
Lewis2081
Moore1831
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1262
Hancock1073

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