1 year ago

Legislation signed into law to reform Board of Pardons and Paroles — ‘Long overdue’

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday signed into law a bill that is expected to provide much-needed, “long overdue” reform of the “badly broken” Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

HB 380, sponsored by State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), represents a comprehensive overhaul of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The new law, which goes into effect September 1, provides strict rules and guidelines to ensure violent offenders do not receive early, wrongful paroles.

During a bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol on Thursday, Ivey was joined by families of crime victims, Rowe, Attorney General Steve Marshall and State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

“The paramount duty of this board is to protect and instill confidence in public safety,” Ivey said. “Attorney General Steve Marshall and I have been relentless in pursuing efficiency and prudency for this board. I am proud to sign such a strong piece of legislation designed to protect Alabama citizens.”

The law is also intended to increase the efficiency and accountability of the board through structural changes.

HB 380 was meticulously crafted by Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office in response to reports in the fall that the board was releasing dangerous felons back onto the street long before their sentences were up. Marshall has called the board “badly broken.”

One egregious example that the attorney general pointed to in a video released this spring was that of Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, who is now charged with three murders in Marshall’s home county after he was released by the Board of Pardons and Paroles while serving a life sentence.

In fact, the state last month announced that it will pay the maximum settlement allowed under the law to the families of Spencer’s victims because of the Board of Pardons and Paroles’ failure.

“When a state agency fails to fulfill its duties to the people, change is necessary. When a state agency charged with ensuring public safety fails to fulfill that duty, change is more than necessary—it is required, with all due care and urgency,” Marshall said on Thursday.

“Accordingly, HB380 was passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed by Governor Ivey less than a year after the full extent of the flawed practices of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles became apparent,” he concluded. “I want to thank Rep. Rowe, Sen. Ward and my staff for their commitment to public safety and determination in seeing these requisite reforms swiftly enacted into law.”

In addition to strict new guidelines for granting a pardon or parole, at least one member on the board must be a current or former law enforcement officer with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in or with a law enforcement agency who worked in the investigation of violent crimes.

“By sponsoring this bill, I hope to eliminate the wrongful, improper release and improper supervision of violent offenders from Alabama’s prison system,” Rowe explained. “I am grateful for the governor and her administration’s support on this piece of legislation. The board’s number one priority should be public safety. This Act gives strict rules and guidelines that will instill public trust and confidence in our pardons and paroles board.”

“This long overdue reform was needed to protect the lives of citizens and respect the families of victims of crime,” Ward remarked.

Additionally, this new law gives the governor more direct oversight of the board and ensures the Board of Pardons and Paroles will be held accountable to a governing body rather than its own membership.

“I applaud Rep. Rowe and Sen. Ward for making public safety one of their priorities this Legislative Session,” Ivey added.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 mins ago

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack: ‘Disappointed’ in Doug Jones; Tuberville needed to keep country ‘free,’ ‘strong’

For many voters, especially on the Republican side, the subject of maintaining law and order will be a priority when they cast their ballot in this November’s election.

According to Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, the issue should be considered, especially when deciding whether to vote in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and his GOP challenger former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Mack told listeners during an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Tuesday it was important for Republicans to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, which put added importance on the Jones-Tuberville match-up.

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“You always look at every election as important,” he said. “I don’t think you can say there is no such thing as an unimportant election. But this one, and in particular our U.S. Senate race, is so important right now. Number one, just from the 3,000-foot view, the Republican Party can gain a seat back in the Senate. And as you know — you follow politics very closely — the Senate is the one body in our United States form of government that has an incredible amount of influence and power as it relates to legislation and to policy, and to funding. So, it is very important that we regain that seat.”

Mack acknowledged his support for Tuberville and expressed his disappointment in Jones, a former U.S. Attorney for the Clinton Justice Department, for his embrace of a “far-left philosophy.”

“From a personal perspective, of course, I’m voting for Tommy Tuberville,” Mack continued. “I hope that Tommy wins the race. When Doug Jones took office, I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed because I’ve known Doug for years. He was a former United States prosecutor. And I was even familiar with some of the cases he prosecuted in the northern district. Since he has moved to Washington, he seems to have taken on a little bit more of that far-left philosophy in many areas but certainly as they relate to law enforcement. I feel that if we’re going to try to achieve some of the things that law enforcement needs to do to keep our country strong, to keep our country free and abide by the rights of the citizens, we need to elect somebody like Tommy Tuberville to that seat.”

Mack predicted issues of law and order and policing would be among the “top three” issues for voters in the November election, and a more discussed issue than if not ever, then at least since the early 1970s.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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22 mins ago

7 Things: Biden selects Kamala Harris as running mate, lawsuit challenging Alabama’s mask mandate dismissed, SEC still wants to play football and more …

7. More funding for mental health programs

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that from some of the funding the state received through the CARES Act, $6 million is going to be sent to community health provider agencies and $1 million for the Alabama Department of Mental Health’s (ADMH) Crisis and Recovery Services program. 
  • ADMH will distribute the $6 million among about 300 agencies eligible for funds. Ivey said in a statement, “Like people around the globe, the people of our state are suffering, and I remain committed to providing the necessary support to get our state and her people back on our feet.”

6. Drop everything and get counted

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  • With a lot a stake for the state of Alabama, it is increasingly important that every Alabama resident take part in the 2020 U.S. Census. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is making sure people know that by declaring today, “Drop Everything, Get Counted Day”
  • Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Counts! chairman and ADECA director makes the reasoning pretty clear, saying, “It should take each person roughly six minutes, but these six minutes are vital to Alabama’s future.” He is calling on employers to take time out of the day to ask employees to participate and then give them time to do so online.

5. TVA CEO pay being reviewed

  •  After President Donald Trump called out the Tennessee Valley Authority, the board reversed their foreign hiring decision, and now they are reviewing the $8.1 million in compensation for Tennessee Valley Authority president Jeff Lyash, interim chairman of the TVA board John Ryder has announced.
  • Ryder said that the board is committed “to doing what is best for the 10 million people in the Tennessee Valley.” He made sure to clarify that the review wasn’t of Lyash’s job performance, only of his pay that has made him the highest-paid federal employee.

4. Still no deal on coronavirus stimulus

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that throughout stimulus package negotiations, Democrats have been treating the pandemic as a “political game” as they are still unable to come to an agreement on legislation.
  • McConnell accused Democrats of blocking relief “over unrelated liberal demands” and even blamed the press, too, for covering “their stonewalling like any ordinary political standoff.” He added that they’re doing a “disservice” to people in America “to act like this has just been more ordinary Washington gridlock.”

3. PAC 12 and the Big Ten decide they don’t want to lose to the SEC this year

  • The college football season continues to take hit after hit with two marquee conferences, the PAC 12 and the Big Ten, deciding that they will postpone their seasons until the spring. Now that two of the big five of college football’s major conferences are quitting, the pressure is now on the SEC, Big XII and ACC to call it quits as well.
  • Most of the college campuses in these two conferences will still have students on campus in the fall. Players are not happy, and Wisconsin is continuing to practice. There were rumblings that some of the dissenting schools in these leagues might seek new homes to play college football this year but that seems to have been kiboshed.

2. Lawsuit against mask mandate dismissed

  • A lawsuit against Governor Kay Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama Board of Health has been dismissed by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, but the attorney on the lawsuit, Seth Ashmore, has already said that his clients are planning to appeal.
  • The Jackson County residents who brought the lawsuit argued that the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and created a “deprivation of liberty,” but the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gives the governor authority to make these sorts of mandates.

1. Surprise! Biden picked Kamala Harris

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has officially named U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election, which makes Harris the first black woman on a presidential ticket.
  • Biden and Harris will both be subject to criticism, though, as Harris formerly was critical about Biden and even said she believed the women who accused him of sexual assault and misconduct.

2 hours ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

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“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

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Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95