‘Sentence should mean something,’ King says
By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY — State Attorney General Troy King advocates an end to parole, even though his old boss, Gov. Bob Riley, sped up paroles to ease overcrowding in Alabama’s prisons and keep Alabama out of trouble with the courts.
Standing outside the front doors of the state parole board last week, King said crime victims expect criminals to serve the sentences they get in court, but that usually doesn’t happen in Alabama because of early releases.
“I believe a sentence should mean something,” King said. “Our sentences are meaningless right now.”
But achieving truth in sentencing, which King advocates, has a big price that state officials have not been willing to meet.
“When you go to truth in sentencing, it’s going to increase the (inmate) population. You’ve got to be ready for that, and we are not ready. We’ve got facilities with broken locks,” said Lynda Flynt, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission.
On the other hand, Flynt knows it’s advantageous for politicians to criticize parole.
“I understand Troy King’s position from law and order and tough on crime and running for re-election,” she said.
King’s position is nothing new.
Since Maine first abolished parole in 1975, a total of 15 states have ended the practice, but three have since instituted new methods of early release — usually because of prison overcrowding issues.
Alabama has struggled with prison overcrowding for more than 30 years. Some governors have built new lockups. Others have stepped up paroles. One opened prison doors and let out inmates under orders from a federal judge.
In 2003, when the state was going through a budget shortfall that wouldn’t allow for new prisons, Riley got the Legislature to speed up paroles by creating a second temporary parole board to release nonviolent offenders.
In March 2005, Riley promoted King from his legal adviser to attorney general. Since then, King has made regular visits to parole board meetings to oppose early release for violent offenders. King’s most recent visit was Tuesday, when he successfully opposed the release of a man who killed two Mobile County sheriff’s deputies in 1975.
At the end of the hearing, the deputies’ relatives embraced King and thanked him for his help.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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