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I-Team: Madison County Sheriff calls for Prison Reform

The Madison County Sheriff's Office tells WAAY31 more than half of the people released from prison last year got out before they served their full sentence.

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 6:39 PM

On Friday, the WAAY31 I-Team looked into the Madison County Sheriff's claim that the state's criminal justice system is not at an adequate level.

"If you're going to give them 10 years, then make sure they do 10 years," Sheriff Blake Dorning said.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office tells WAAY31 more than half of the people released from prison last year got out before they served their full sentence.

"No it doesn't work, hadn't worked. It's never been proven to work," Dorning said. "The thing is if you're going to do a punishment, than do a punishment and let it be done."

After looking at the Department of Corrections Annual Report, in 2017, 14,200 people were released from prison and more than half of them were let out prior to serving their full sentence. Dorning says the reason is simple. Overcrowding. The sheriff voiced his concerns on Thursday after telling county commissioners he needs another four-million dollars to hire more deputies, buy more patrol cars and battle overcrowding in the county jail.

"Who are we going to let out today? Who's acted the best today? That's where we are."

Without directly saying Jimmy Spencer's name, the sheriff referenced the crimes the ex-con is accused of.

"We got a person on the street doing a life sentence...but he's on the street and he murdered a child."

Spencer is charged with killing a child and two elderly people in Guntersville in July. WAAY31 learned he was released on parole in January despite serving a life sentence. Dorning is firm in his belief that releasing convicted felons early does not work, a belief that Glenn Elkins echoes.

"People do change. Hardcore people don't change. You got to keep them locked up forever."

WAAY31 learned some of Spencer's original victims are calling on the Governor and Attorney General to do a full investigation into the parole board.

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