It's not a secret that Alabama's criminal justice system is fraught with problems, including the prison system, which leaves much to be desired.
However, sentencing is also a problem for judges and prosecutors, who are forced to compensate for a corrections system that seems all too eager to release inmates long before their sentence is complete.
During an interview with FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) said he believed Alabama could get back to a so-called truth-in-sentencing structure, which would prevent overcompensating by judges and prosecutors with the sentencing for those convicted of a crime.
Simpson, a former Mobile and Baldwin County prosecutor, proposed sentences with a range that defined release for good behavior and release for not observing good behavior.
"I do," he replied. "I think you have prosecutors and judges right now who are saying we are going to give you a sentence of 30 years to serve. Well, the prosecutors and judges know that that person is serving 30 years. They're going to get out in 10 or 12 years on that 30-year sentence. So instead of coming up with fake make-believe numbers on sentences, let's put it down to a number that's realistic. Let's put it down to a number they're actually going to serve on these sentences."
"What I would propose and what I think is the answer is you create a range of punishment," Simpson continued. "So instead of someone being sentenced to 30 years in prison where they're eligible for good time and early release and everything, you set a range. You're sentenced to prison for 12 years or 12 to 18. If you behave, then you get out in 12. If you don't behave, then you've got 18 ahead of you. But you would know that that victim would know when they go home that day that at least for the next 12 years, that person is going to go to bed at night and they're going to have doors cling behind them because they're going to go to bed in a prison cell, which is a better opportunity and more comfort for victims to know, 'OK, this is what you really have,' and it would allow the judges and prosecutors to know that we can actually bring our sentences down because we know they're actually serving the terms — not just a make-believe number that is a fake number out there."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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