Tuscaloosa News Opinion

From the Tuscaloosa News:

Bill Formby Northport

Published: Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 12:10 a.m.

Dear Editor: There is an old saying that one definition of insanity is when someone keeps doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. For as long as I can remember, the good folks of Alabama have insisted upon longer prison sentences for those convicted of crimes, regardless of the nature of the crimes.

Circuit judges run for office promising to be hard on criminals, as do appellant court judges. Similarly, the prison system in this state has been in trouble due to overcrowded conditions for more than 40 years. All this and the crime picture hasn’t changed in this state.

The corrections system never seems to have enough money to carry out the job the way the people of Alabama want it done. That, of course, is the bane of other things in this state. Alabamians want a lot but have little taste for paying for it or to be reasonable about being reasonable about priorities.

In today’s Tuscaloosa News (Dec. 16), the director of the department of corrections indicated that some relief from the budget shortfall could be gained if judges would follow the voluntary guidelines instead of handing out lengthy prison sentences. But judges want to be re-elected so they do not want to be seen as soft on crime. Prosecutors are worse still. They feel that they must get the longest sentence possible with little regard to what is best. What they all forget is that someone, somewhere has to pay for this “lock’em up and throw away the key” mentality.


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