March 2014 THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN PARTY
Alabama Prisons Overcrowded
ALSO:SAVE THE DATE FOR CANDIDATE FORUMS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES, AND PROPERTY TAX OFFICE UPDATES
Chairman’s Corner With qualifying deadline now past, the ballot is set for elected office in Shelby County for 2014 Republican Primary. Candidates had to file qualifying documents with the county Republican Party by 5:00pm Friday, February 7 in order to compete for their respective offices. Alabama’s chief election official, Secretary of State Jim Bennett, directed that qualifying for major party candidates will end Feb. 7, 2014 rather than April 4, 2014 as originally established by statute. The U.S. Department of Justice sued Alabama with regard to military and other Alabamians living overseas and the time to transmit their absentee ballots and return them in time to be counted. According to the secretary of state, the suit led to an agreement and corresponding decree by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to move up the qualifying deadline for Democratic and Republican candidates. The Shelby County Republican Party (SCGOP) has qualifying authority for local county offices including Sheriff, Coroner, Property Tax Commissioner, Superintendent of Education, and Board of Education. The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) has jurisdiction to qualify candidates that are local to the county, but serve in judicial circuit or district (i.e. District Judge a Place 2), along with all legislative seats. Those include members of the house of representative and state senate. Districts included within Shelby
County in whole or in part are: House: 15, 41, 43, 45, 48, 49, and 73; Senate: 11, 14, 15, and 16. All things considered, there were no real surprises. Consistently, where there were incumbents running for the position currently held those are all Republicans here and were unchallenged. The contests, and in some cases with multiple candidates, emerged from places that were either open seats, or new seats to the county legislative delegation. Announcements last year by Sheriff Chris Curry and State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin that neither would be seeking another term left both offices as open seats and now vigorously contested. The race for Sheriff drew four candidates, while the open seat for House 43 had seven to qualify by the deadline Candidates who qualified as candidates for Sheriff are: Kip Cole, Larry McDow, Rick Needham, and John Samaniego. For the open House district 43 seat, ALGOP reported the following candidates at the February 7 deadline: Doug Clark, Arnold Mooney, Amie Beth Shaver, Cheryl Ciamarra, John Bahakel, Gina McDonald, and Don Murphy. The legislature’s creation of a newly-formed District 73 resulting from reapportionment appeared to be uncontested until late on the qualifying deadline date. Former SCGOP chairman Matt Fridy announced his candidacy early
upon establishment of the district last summer, and was thought to be unopposed until a last-minute entry on the closing date by Jody Trautwein. Senate District 11, re-formed by reapportionment and now incorporates significant portion of Shelby County, is another one of the contested races. Sen. Jerry Fielding currently holding office as the seat was previous formulated will face current state representative Jim McClendon, who, until November, represents a house district that presently includes part of Shelby County. Longtime District Judge Ron Jackson was another whose announcement that he would not be seeking re-election had resulted in a contest for Place 2 on the bench. Candidates recorded as qualifying with ALGOP are Daniel A. Crowson and Dave Roper. Another open seat in which Shelby County will be contested heavily is that of U.S. House of Representatives Alabama District 6. With the announcement by Congressman Spencer Bachus last fall that he would be retiring, that seat drew speculation early, as well as as many as four candidates within a few days. At the close of Friday’s qualifying, a total of seven candidates had officially qualified with ALGOP to run to represent Alabama’s 6th congressional district. They include: Chad Mathis, Paul DeMarco, Will Brooke, Gary
Table of Contents 2
Executive Committee Meeting Notice
Rainy Day Patriots Celebrate 5 Years
6th District Forum
Update on Shelby Property Tax Division
Legislators Must Reform Alabama’s Prisons
Legislative seats within Shelby County with incumbents filing and who will run opposed are: (House) District 15 - Allen Farley; District 41 -Mike Hill; District 45 – Dickie Drake; District 48 - Jim Carns; District 49 April Weaver; (Senate) District 14 - Cam Ward; District 15 - Slade Blackwell; District 16 - J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner.
Fixing Problems at Tutwiler Prison
Ward Pursues Prison Reform
Opportunities for Conservatives
Corey Moore Appointed Circuit Judge
For those offices for which incumbents are unopposed, that reflects a resounding satisfaction among voters for the excellent job our Republican officials are doing in their respective. Otherwise, we have some of the finest elected officials ever to serve leaving office, having set the standard very high, yet among those contending there are many very capable of stepping unto those big shoes.
AL Free Market Alliance Succeeds with Video
Senate Passes Welfare Reform Bills
National Press Ignores Racist Rant
Tijuanna Adetunji Challenges Rep. Holmes
AL House Passes Pro-life Bills
Palmer, Tom Vigneulle, Robert Shattuck, and Scott Beason. County offices that drew qualifying from incumbents only were: Coroner - Diana Steele New; Property Tax Commissioner - Don Armstrong; Superintendent of Education - Randy Fuller; and Board of Education - Peg Hill.
Quarterly Executive Committee Meeting Notice The next quarterly meeting of the Shelby County Republican Party Executive Committee will take place March 11 at 7 PM at the County Services Building located at 1125 County Services Drive in Pelham. Meetings are open to the public.
Editor-in-Chief Freddy Ard Executive Editor Alan Reyes-Guerra Creative Editor Laura Joseph Paid for by the Shelby County Republican Party 1920 Valleydale Road, Suite 154 Birmingham, AL 35244 205-994-6497 • www.shelbycountygop.org
Greater Birmingham Teen Age Republicans Next Meeting: March 13
Our next monthly meeting will be held at Nino’s restaurant in Pelham on Thursday night, March 13th. Our special guest speaker will be Amie Beth Shaver, candidate for Alabama House Represenative, District 43 - Shelby County. If you plan on eating dinner, please arrive by 6:30 to order food. The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m. Amie Beth Shaver is the adopted daughter of Dr. Douglas and Barbara Dickinson, the wife of 16 years to Dr. Chris Shaver and the mother of four children, Emmy (14), Wesley Kate (12), Will (10) and Molly (6). Amie Beth grew up in Shelby County and is a graduate of Samford University. Amie Beth became Miss Alabama in 1994 on a platform centered on adoption and the Right to Life. Who Moved the Line? America’s Character Crisis was authored by Amie Beth and led to a national speaking tour with a range of topics from abortion, adoption, teen pregnancy, motherhood, faith and politics. Recently, Amie Beth has been the spokesman for several conservative grassroots organizations in Alabama, and is a frequent guest and fan favorite on conservative talk radio. Please bring a friend!
Alabama’s Rainy Day Patriots Celebrate 5 Years Alabama’s Rainy Day Patriots (RDP) announced this afternoon that today marks their 5th anniversary as one of the state’s most active conservative grassroots groups. “It all started on Feb. 27, 2009 when 15 or so original folks stood in a storm holding signs with no idea what we were getting into and how hard the fight was going to be,” RDP president Zan Green told Yellowhammer. “We left that day laughing at ourselves for being ‘rainy day patriots.’ The name stuck and we are still in the fight today.”
Rainy Day Patriots has become the most recognizable Tea Party group in the state over the last few years. Along with the Wetumpka Tea Party, RDP was named one of Yellowhammernews.com’s “Top 5 conservative groups in Alabama” last year. Green said that the credit for RDP’s success over the past five years belongs to the group’s members. “I for one never foresaw or planned on this 5 year stint, but the movement has taken on a life of its own, it runs us, not the other way around,” she said. “My
name is on the paper work, I am the founder, but the force is the members, the Patriots, the doers and those determined to press on. Happy Anniversary to all the Patriots that have been involved over the past 5 years with the Rainy Day Patriots, a Tea Party. Many have come and gone, but the impact of their time and efforts have made a difference.”
Sixth Congressional District Candidate Forum March 21 A public forum featuring the Republican candidates for the Sixth District Congressional seat will be held at The Westminster School at Oak Mountain, 5080 Cahaba Valley Trace, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21, 2014. The event is sponsored by Eagle Forum of Alabama and the Shelby County Republican Women’s Club. Seven hopefuls are vying for the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Spencer Bachus. There is no Democratic candidate contesting the race. The Republican Primary is set for Tuesday, June 3, 2014 with a runoff, if necessary, scheduled for Tuesday, July 15.
The forum’s format will allow the candidates to talk about their qualifications and why they would best represent the Sixth Congressional district in Washington. This will be followed by questions from the audience. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend. The event will last approximately 90 minutes. “We think this will be a great opportunity for voters to see and hear the candidates on the same stage,” said Joan Reynolds, secretary of the Shelby County Republican Women’s Club, and an organizer of the forum. “It is rare for this congressional seat to become open, so Republican voters have
an important choice to make in June. We believe this format will allow voters to hear the candidates give unscripted answers to issues that are important to them.” The candidates seeking the nomination are Scott Beason, Will Brooke, Paul DeMarco, Chad Mathis, Gary Palmer, Robert Shattuck and Tom Vigneulle.
Young Republican Federation of Shelby County Next Meeting: March 19
The Shelby County Young Republicans have elected their 2014 officers: Chairman Andrew Plaster, Vice Chairman Matt Fridy, Secretary Laura Joseph, Treasurer April DeLuca, State Committeeman Jason DeLuca and State Committeewoman April DeLuca. The next meeting will be held on March 19, featuring guest speaker Cliff Sims of Yellowhammernews.com. Connect on Facebook at Young Republican Federation of Shelby County, and be sure to invite your friends!
Updates to the Shelby County Property Tax Commissioner’s Office
There have been several updates to Shelby County’s Property Tax Commissioner’s office in recent years, resulting in improved efficiency, cost savings, and improved customer service. Our Property Tax Commissioner’s Office is one of the most technologically advanced property tax offices in the State. Property Tax Commissioner Don Armstrong and his team are to be commended for the outstanding job they do for Shelby County Taxpayers.
After a number of days and hours looking for a program that would address the workflow and processing that Commissioner Armstrong felt would be best for Shelby County, the office partnered with a software vendor who provided a great product at a very reasonable cost. The Property Tax Commissioner’s office has implemented the new software program within each of the 5 departments: Assessment,
Appraisal, Mapping, Business Personal Property and Collections. The implementation of the new software program has allowed the Property Tax Commissioner’s Office to work smarter and more efficiently. Approximately 90% of paper files have been eliminated by scanning documents into the system and attaching them to the parcel or account to which they relate. This equates to approximately 93,000 parcels for real property and approximately 14,000 for Business Personal Property. Keeping records digitally improves office efficiency because more than one employee can view the information at the same time. In addition, property tax assessment has been completely automated and all exemption information (approximately 12,000 accounts) is scanned into the system, which allows employees to
look up information while they are talking to a taxpayer, and greatly improves customer service. Shelby County has a state-ofthe-art Mapping System that is not only used by the Property Tax Commissioner’s Office but all of Shelby County. Our mapping system has helped Shelby County use the information from these maps to secure matching inkind funds on highway and other projects. Collections were also updated, providing the office with a way to give the Taxpayer a receipt with a copy of their check on the receipt. The processing and posting of checks has allowed the Property Tax Commissioner’s office to complete each day’s work, even during the busy time in December, without requiring overtime. All posting and processing for the year end is finished by the 3rd of January. The new system
allows the office to process checks into an account that is sent directly to the bank and posted to the taxpayer’s account at the same time, which improves efficiency. But perhaps the process that has saved the most time and money is the Business Personal Property process. We began improvements in this division five years ago and the new process has been in place for four years. The office has eliminated filing and mailing of multiple page forms, at a savings of $20,000+ in postage. Taxpayers are able to file online, saving them time and money as well. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the Business Personal Property division to do our job without any over-time. Five years ago, the Business Personal Property Department was working two hours of overtime every day after January 1st each year, plus every Saturday during February, March and part of April to complete the job on time. Since then, the office has been able to eliminate two
full time positions in the Business Personal Property department. Currently, the office is bringing in IBM SPSS Statistic’s statistical software to help produce reasonable county appraised values conclusions. Commissioner Armstrong feels that this will help this office arrive at a reasonable value that will be consistent across the County for the areas in which it makes sense to use this process. The goal of the Shelby County Property Tax Commissioner’s Office is to get the correct value on property, whether it is increased or decreased, in the most costeffective way, with all Departments working together. The office also uses part-time workers that are trained to move into areas where they are needed as the work load moves from department to department.
software and processes, he estimates that with the reduction of four positions, approximately $20,000 savings in postage in Business Personal Property and overtime, and also additional overtime savings in Collections, savings are in excess of $150,000 per year. Commissioner Armstrong says that he really enjoys his job, saying, “God blessed me with this job at a time in my life when I needed to be busy, and He knew best.” and the workers in the Property Tax Commissioner’s office, ”We have great people working in this office and the job would not get done without their ability and commitment to serving the Taxpayers of Shelby County.” Don Armstrong was appointed as Shelby County’s Property Tax Commissioner September 17th, 2005.
Although Commissioner Armstrong hasn’t completed a formal cost analysis on the savings since the implementation of the new
An Evening with Sarah Palin Friday, April 25, 2014
The Orange Beach Event Center at The Wharf 4671 Wharf Parkway • Orange Beach, AL
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM Individual Ticket - $125 One ticket for dinner and keynote presentation, open seating Reserved Table for 10 - $1,500 Includes a “Reserved Table” sign Silver Sponsorship for 10 - $2,500 Includes photo opportunity with Sarah Palin, recognition in the program and slide presentation, reserved table for 10 for dinner and keynote presentation.
Legislators must reform Alabama’s prisons or risk a federal judge doing it for us By Cliff Sims, yellowhammernews.com Capt. Richard Naile looks through an evidence box at the front gate of Elmore Correctional Facility in 2009. While other contraband could be found in the box, it was mostly full of cellphones. (Tamika Mooreemail@example.com)
Bringing real reform to Alabama’s congested prison system may be an idea whose time has finally come. To say the state’s prisons are overcrowded would be an understatement. They’re currently operating at almost twice their capacity. While 1 in every 190 Americans is serving a prison sentence of a year or more — which is absurd in the “Land of the Free” — in Alabama that number jumps to 1 in every 148. As of July 2010, only 43 percent of Alabama’s prisoners were serving time for violent crimes. So the vast majority of Alabama’s prisoners are locked up for non-violent, typically minor drug offenses. The costs of housing these inmates is skyrocketing.
Alabama has seen a 95 percent increase in the cost per inmate over the last two decades. As of 2008, the state was spending $15,178 per inmate each year. That’s $41.47 for each inmate every single day — cash that’s coming straight out of our paychecks.
In the 2011 Supreme Court case Brown v. Plata, the Court effectively required the State of California to remove 46,000 criminals from its prisons by forcing The Golden State to cut its prison population to 137.5 percent of “design capacity.”
This is putting a huge strain on the state’s beleaguered (i.e. disastrous) General Fund Budget. But it’s the overcrowding issue that Alabamians should be most concerned about right now.
The Public Policy Institute of California found that property crime increased by 7.6 percent the year after the mass releases. Car thefts rose almost 15 percent. In short, 24,000 more people had their car stolen in California in 2012 as a result of the state not being able to get its prison overcrowding problem under control.
To put it plainly, Alabama has the most serious prison crowding problem in the country. It’s so bad that we’re running the risk of federal courts stepping in and ordering the haphazard release of thousands of prisoners from the state’s lockups. That’s not fear mongering, just ask the State of California.
And remember, Alabama’s prisons are currently at roughly 187% capacity, 50% higher than the level the Court mandated for California. Recently, the situation inside Alabama’s prisons got national
media attention due to inmates staging protests at several facilities. Some of the prisoners refused to cook food or do laundry. Some even demanded pay for their work. That’s silly.
probation and parole systems and in-prison reform programs. They saved over $3 billion dollars by not building new prisons and saw their crime rate hit its lowest point in a half century.
However, a corrections officer called into talk radio station WYDE on Monday and said he believes the protests may have been organized from outside the prison by activist groups looking for an opportunity to introduce a lawsuit or to simply gain the attention of the courts.
North Carolina is another state that achieved a significant reduction in its prison population by prioritizing space for violent offenders, strengthening probation and parole supervision and sending low-level drug offenders to drug courts.
“Last night felt like it was about to get out of control,” the officer said. “Tensions are real high. They’re trying to draw us into a confrontation so they can sue us.” The protests have already gotten the attention of State Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who has been one of the Alabama legislature’s leading advocates for prison reform. “We’re dealing with a box of dynamite in our prison system,” Ward told AL.com’s Mike Cason. “I would rather us as a Legislature deal with it … as opposed to a federal judge coming in slashing and burning.” Ward said he believes Alabama’s prison system is the “greatest threat to state budgets” and suggested following the lead of other states that have successfully reformed their prison system in recent years. One such state could be Texas, which opted not to build new prisons about 5 years ago. Instead, the state improved its
Katherine Robertson of the Alabama Policy Institute said it best, “(Our) leaders must act to improve and expand alternatives to incarceration for low-risk and nonviolent offenders to ensure that costly prison space is focused on those who pose a long-term threat
to our public safety, not those we are simply mad at.” The high-cost, low return system we currently have is broken. Instead of improving the state’s infrastructure, adequately funding our judicial system, or any number of other potentially beneficial uses of General Fund dollars, Alabama is spending just under $400 million a year (!) on a corrections system that doesn’t even work. This is a tough issue that is not going to be solved in one bill or even one session. It’s going to take years. But it’s a huge opportunity for Alabama legislators to step up and get us headed in the right direction before a federal judge swoops in and does it for us.organizations.
QUICK HIT: • Alabama’s prisons are currently operating at twice their capacity • The vast majority of Alabama inmates are nonviolent offenders • The cost of housing inmates ($400 million/year) is busting the state’s budget • The Supreme Court ordered the release of 46,000 criminals in California because their prisons were overcrowded • The same could happen in Alabama if state lawmakers don’t act
Here’s what we’re doing to fix the problems at Tutwiler Prison for Women By Governor Robert Bentley via AL.com As Governor, it is my responsibility to address the problems that exist in Alabama’s prison system. I want Alabamians to know that custodial misconduct in our correctional facilities will not be tolerated, especially when it comes to female inmates. In June of 2012, Alabama’s Corrections Commissioner, recognizing the need to address serious, longstanding, systemic issues within our prison system, proactively asked a national independent agency to come in and make recommendations on steps to reduce inappropriate staff conduct with female offenders and create a safer environment for the inmates. In January of 2013, Commissioner Thomas issued a directive with 58 recommendations. Some examples include enhancing inmate privacy by adding new panel doors in the bathroom areas, modifying policies to take into account gender differences and specific requirements of the women inmates, discontinuing the process of strip searches of inmates returning to the facility, enhancing the internal investigation procedures for inmate complaints, and continuing efforts to recruit much needed staff to safely supervise the inmate population. Today, all 58 recommendations have been initiated and are close to completion.
Significant progress has been made at Tutwiler over the last thirteen months, and there is no question that more work needs to
be done. We are working hard to address areas of concern in the facility. With the Legislature’s help, we increased funding for the Department of Corrections by approximately $24 million for FY 2014. That allowed for the hiring of 100 additional corrections officers system-wide and the installation of a camera system at Tutwiler. The department has also started a new recruiting effort to hire more female corrections officers which included a higher salary for officers willing to work at Tutwiler. I believe we need more female officers at Tutwiler, and we are working to get them hired. Another top priority for the Department of Corrections is the renovation of the Wetumpka Women’s Facility. Once completed, this facility will significantly reduce the number of inmates at Tutwiler by nearly 50% and make a significant impact on the overcrowding issues there. We are working with members of the Legislature right now to get additional money appropriated for the Department of Corrections in order to get the Wetumpka Women’s Facility renovated. I recently visited Tutwiler and saw first-hand the operations at the facility. I met with the warden and female correctional officers, and saw the inmates. I do not believe that the pervasive custodial sexual misconduct that existed in the past occurs there anymore. In isolated instances where it has occurred in the last three years, quick action has been taken to investigate and refer offenders to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
We are moving in a new direction with Tutwiler, and are reforming the facility to make it safer for inmates and staff. I have asked an expert group in criminal justice management and sexual safety in confinement to assist the Department of Corrections in continuing the reform efforts underway at Tutwiler. The Moss Group has a national reputation for helping criminal justice agencies and brings a lot of experience and best practices to Alabama. The Moss Group has worked in all 50 states with some of the most respected professionals in corrections. Specifically, the Moss Group will help with the culture, staffing and safety assessments, policy review and development, technical assistance and training on internal investigations and various other matters. The issues at Tutwiler cannot be changed overnight, but with the reform efforts already underway and the assistance of the Moss Group, we will continue to implement best practices so Tutwiler can become a better facility for the inmates and the staff.
Ward Pursues Prison Reforms By Mary Sell Montgomery Times/Daily via camward.com Some state lawmakers want the Department of Corrections to explore expanding communitybased programs as a way to ease prison crowding. State Sen. Cam Ward, chairman of the legislative committee that oversees prisons, said Texas saved about $241 million during three years by moving people from prisons to community corrections programs. Kentucky estimates it will save about $400 million during 10 years with similar changes. “These are conservative states with conservative solutions,” Ward, R-Alabaster, said Tuesday. The committee is asking for a blueprint in the next few months of what expansion in Alabama could look like. Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas said community corrections programs vary from county to county. Some mandate inmates spend nights in jail and go to work, school or drug treatment during the day. Others are probation-type programs where inmates live at home and check in with officers daily. Some use electronic monitoring devices. It cost about $10 to $12 a day to have an inmate in community corrections, Ward said. Earlier this year, Thomas said it costs $42.54
a day to care for an inmate in prison, including $10.47 in health care, $24.40 in salaries and benefits for staff, and $2.41 for food and clothing. Violent offenders are not eligible for community corrections programs. Of the about 26,000 inmates in the Department of Correction’s care, about 74 percent are violent offenders. But expanding community corrections, for which the state spends about $5 million a year, will have one immediate challenge: Not all counties have the programs. Though the number has grown in recent years, 23 counties have yet to get on board. “You can’t force anyone to have community corrections,” Ward said. “But hopefully there is a way ... to make communities realize the benefits.” All north Alabama counties have the programs. Committee member and Senate Democrat Bobby Singleton, of Greensboro, said some community corrections and work-release programs have struggled in economically depressed rural areas.
Lawmakers allocated about $389 million for corrections for 2014. That’s about $16.7 million more than in the current budget year. About $5 million of that will be used to hire 100 new correctional officers. Earlier this year, Thomas said the inmate-to-correctional officer ratio was 11 to 1. Next to the state Medicaid agency, corrections is the biggest general fund expense. Currently, state prisons are at about 188 percent capacity and staffed at about 60 percent. “I don’t think you can build your way out of (the problem), and even if you could, we can’t afford to staff it,” Ward said. Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, said he’s in favor of expanding into community programs. The state spends too much on prisons and not enough on education, he said. “That’s where you stop crimes from happening,” Bedford said. “Educate people and let them get decent jobs and support their families.”
“Because of poverty, there is no work,” he said. Getting people jobs is key to keeping them out of prison in the long term, officials said.
“Getting people jobs is key to keeping them out of prison in the long term.” 11
Alabama’s Criminal Justice System Offers Opportunities for Conservatives by Katherine Robertson, Jay Neal and Jerry Madden, alabamapolicy.org As leaders in the national conservative criminal justice movement, we have witnessed several states successfully implement more effective and efficient sentencing and corrections systems. By adopting policies based on conservative principles — personal responsibility, fiscal discipline, and individual liberty – states including Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas have enacted policies proven to both enhance public safety and minimize the cost to taxpayers. What these states have found is that the cycle of crime can be broken by implementing and expanding approaches aimed at nonviolent offenders, specifically through increased use of drug courts, access to mental health facilities, and by removing barriers to employment for ex-offenders, among others. Today, Alabama is home to the highest prison crowding rate in the country, with prisons at 187 percent capacity. Alabama is poised to follow the path forged by other conservative states in taking a smarter approach to operating its criminal justice system. And we are ready to help. Like most states, Alabama’s prison system is one of the largest and fastest growing parts of the state budget. Yet, this system is not reducing re-offending
commensurate with this growth in spending. Fortunately, momentum for change is building around the country and conservatives in other states have taken the lead in promoting sensible policies. Today, Alabama is home to the highest prison crowding rate in the country, with prisons at 187 percent capacity. Without true reform, Alabama risks falling prey to federal court intervention, similar to California, where unelected judges order the release of
Today, Alabama is home to the highest prison crowding rate in the country, with prisons at
thousands of prisoners from state lockups. These edicts ordering the haphazard release of inmates risk turning out dangerous offenders who pose a significant safety risk to their communities. But this does not have to be the story for Alabama; there is an alternative. For example, Georgia, led by a conservative governor who is a former prosecutor, passed major
adult and juvenile policy changes without a single opposition vote in the Legislature. The consensus measure, developed with input from all stakeholders, is projected to improve public safety outcomes and reduce the prison population by prioritizing prison space for violent and dangerous offenders while strengthening probation and parole supervision and diverting more low-level drug offenders to drug courts. North Carolina developed and passed legislation during a period in which the North Carolina Legislature totally changed from one party to the other. The legislation introduced significant changes in the state’s probation system without new funds, yet this and other changes have led to an almost 12 percent reduction in prison population. Texas, instead of building more prisons in 2007, implemented improvements to probation, parole, specialty courts, and in-prison treatment programs which have avoided more than $3 billion in prison costs. Most importantly, Texas’ crime rate is at its lowest since 1968. Alabama’s leaders are at a crossroads, presented with the opportunity to make real positive change to their criminal justice system or continue on the current path. The high cost, low return system currently in operation can only last for so long. Leaders must act to improve and expand alternatives to incarceration for low-risk and nonviolent offenders
Corey B. Moore appointed Circuit Judge to ensure that costly prison space is focused on those who pose a longterm threat to our public safety, not those we are simply mad at. As Alabama looks to the future of its criminal justice system, it can turn to many existing resources. Recently, the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center joined with Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance to host a Prison Reentry Summit at Samford University. Now, Right on Crime, an initiative for conservative criminal justice reforms anchored by a statement of principles signed by luminaries such as Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, J.C. Watts, and Ed Meese, is joining with Alabama’s conservative think tank, the Birmingham-based Alabama Policy Institute, to help leaders address this important issue.
Upon receiving notice of the appointment of CoreyB. Moore to fill the Circuit Judge, Place 1 vacancy, Chairman Freddy Ard released the following remarks: “As is always the case with these matters, I have been fully confident in Governor Bentley’s judgment in making the appointment to fill the vacancy for Shelby County Circuit Judge Place 1 that resulted from the retirement of Judge Hub Harrington. Personally, and in my capacity as chairman, I congratulate Corey Moore on his appointment as Shelby County’s newest judge and Republican official.
“I know Corey to be a person of integrity, and furthermore, am confident that he will demonstrate the exceptional qualifications, temperament, and suitability to serve the cause of justice and law in our county. Additionally, I welcome Corey to the family of Republican elected officials in Shelby County. His past support for the Shelby County GOP has always been most appreciated, and I look forward to his further contribution in public office as we continue the legacy of excellent elected officials here in our great county.”
Alabama still has time to change its course. State leaders can choose to enact polices that have been proven to protect public safety while lowering the cost to taxpayers. Katherine Robertson serves as senior policy analyst for the Alabama Policy Institute and is a former U.S. Justice Department employee; Jay Neal is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, serves on the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council, and authored legislation that created the council; and Jerry Madden is a former chairman of the Correction Committee of the Texas House of Representatives and author of many Texas’ reforms.
Alabama Free Market Alliance has viral video success with ‘AARP Shake’ By Adam Thomas, yellowhammernews.com Paul Reynolds is in his second term serving as Alabama’s National Committeeman for the Republican National Committee. He’s also the founder and president of Reynolds Technical Associates, a broadcast engineering consulting firm. Reynolds, a grandfather who was born and raised in an Alabama town with a population of under 500 (Midway), looks like he would be anything but a forward-thinking technology and communication innovator. But in 2013, he gained notoriety as one of the conservative movement’s most unlikely champions of using new media platforms to advance conservative causes. Roughly a year ago Reynolds launched the Alabama Free Market Alliance (AFMA), a web-based conservative advocacy group, to educate and inform Alabamians on issues affecting them on the state and national levels. “The Alabama Free Market Alliance is dedicated to educating Alabamians on conservative, freemarket principles and mobilizing them as advocates for putting those principles to work solving Alabama’s problems,” The group says in its mission statement. Its three “pillars” are fighting overreaching government regulation, promoting pro-growth tax reform, and advocating for a true all-ofthe-above energy policy.
The group now boasts roughly 13,000 Facebook “likes,” including members of the Alabama House and Senate as well as influential grassroots leaders.
“I have to deal with absurd government regulations and taxes every day running my business,” Reynolds told Yellowhammer. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have some success in spite of it, but it makes me sick to think that the generations of Americans coming behind us aren’t going to have the same opportunities because the government won’t get out of the way and let the free market work. That’s why I started this group — to make as much racket as I can about the most intrusive, overbearing federal government this country has ever seen.” Issues that Reynolds’ group has taken on include everything from the repeal of Common Core Standards and stopping the Internet sales tax, to fighting the “war on coal” and exposing cases of egregious overregulation. Article titles like “Pointy headed liberals say we don’t have a spending problem” and “Jailbreak your iPhone, get years in prison,” and listicles like “10 stories of job loss as consequences of Obamacare” make it clear that Reynolds is serious about reaching a new generation of conservatives. “The younger generation is waking up to the disastrous consequences of liberalism faster than any time since the Reagan Revolution,” Reynolds said. “They understand the harsh realities of living in the Obama economy. They can’t find a job. At best they’re underemployed, working jobs that might pay the bills but offer little hope for advancement. That’s fertile ground for conservatives to plant seeds by saying, ‘Hey, it doesn’t have to be like this.
Socialism fails, the free market works. History proves that.’” AFMA’s biggest success story to date may be a viral video they released a couple of months ago titled “Don’t fall for the AARP Shake.” Using the “Harlem Shake” concept that swept the internet earlier this year, Reynolds’ team laid out how the AARP has inserted itself into the utility review process at the Alabama Public Service Commission. The video, which is embedded below, now has over 60,000 views. “We took an extremely dry issue that didn’t make sense to many people — an issue that most people didn’t even know affected them — and explained it in an easy-tounderstand, fun way. And we did it all in less than a minute,” Reynolds explained. “The AARP is toting the Obama Administration’s water. They did it on Obamacare. Now they’re doing it on environmental issues, on Obama’s ‘war on coal.’ But they try to cloak everything by saying they’re advocating for seniors. It’s hogwash.” And Reynolds says this is only the beginning for his new group. “We’ve had a great first year, but there are a lot of opportunities to increase our reach,” he said. “As long as I wake up in the morning aggravated the federal government won’t leave me alone, I’ll keep the group going. So yea, we probably won’t be going anywhere any time soon.”
Senate Passes Welfare Reform Bills By Brandon Moseley, Alabama Political Reporter The Alabama Senate passed stringent new requirements for persons receiving entitlements from the State of Alabama. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said on Facebook afterwards, “Tonight, Senate Republicans passed a package of common sense welfare reform bills.” Sen. Marsh said, “Drug testing for certain welfare applicants, work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients and requiring welfare applicants to submit job application before receiving benefits were among the bills.” During deliberations, Senator Phil Williams (R) from Rainbow City said on Facebook, “Good day brewing in the State Senate! We are working on major entitlement reform today! We just passed a bill to allow drug testing for welfare applicants, we’re about to pass a bill to require able bodied recipients of unemployment to conduct community service, and we will be tackling Medicaid fraud next. Democrats are opposing each one and attempting to filibuster but we are working through it!” Sen. Arthur Orr (R) from Decatur said, “These bills should help people spend welfare funds on the children not liquor & beer etc.” Sen. Paul Bussman (R) from Cullman said on Facebook, ‘Senate passes bill that would prohibit the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources from requesting a waiver of federal
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh
Senator Phil Williams
Senator Arthur Orr
Senator Paul Bussman
Senator Tom Whatley
job requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents who are applicants or recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and would require that the Department of Human Resources ensure that the SNAP program includes all federal work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents. Sen. Tom Whatley (R) from Lee County said, “Today in the Senate we passed some Common Sense Reform Bills designed to restore some checks and balances to our welfare system and give a hand up not just a hand out. Working to protect your tax dollars.” Sen. Whatley said, “The five-bill package includes measures to: • Allow for drug testing of welfare applicants with a drug conviction within the past five years. • Restore community service, job training or work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients without dependents. • Increase penalties for fraud in taxpayer-funded public assistance programs • Require welfare applicants to submit job applications before receiving benefits • Prohibit spending of welfare benefits on liquor, tobacco, casinos and strip clubs?” Democrats were critical of the bills and said that they were designed to attack the poor of Alabama.
National Press Virtually Ignores Alabama Legislator’s Racist Rant, Grilling of Pro-Life Bill’s Sponsor By Tom Blumer newsbusters.org Alabama Democratic State Representative Alvin Holmes, who recently created a firestorm by calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “a very prolific Uncle Tom,” was at it again. This time, the issue at hand was a “fetal heartbeat” bill restricting abortions. Holmes, who apparently needs no help seeing racism in just about anything, claimed, in the words of Kala Kachmar at the Montgomery Advertiser, that “99 percent of the white legislators in the chamber would raise their hand to say they’re against abortion, and that same 99 percent would make their daughters get an abortion if they were impregnated by a black man.” Holmes was also robbed of his wallet and $300 earlier in the week. Guess which story was worthy of coverage at the Associated Press? With rare exceptions, the rest of the U.S. press also appears to have ignored Holmes’ raging racism. What follows are excerpts from Kachmar’s story: ... “You ain’t gonna have no little black baby if you got two other white children, and then she’s gonna have a little black baby running around there in the living room or in the den with the rest of them,” he said. “They’re not going to let that happen. You know that and I know that.” Holmes, D-Montgomery, also said he’d mortgage his house and bring $100,000 in cash — in a briefcase — tomorrow if anyone could show “a whole bunch of whites” who
have adopted black children in Alabama. His comments, like the comments he made less than a month ago when he called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom,” garnered national attention from the Huffington Post and other media outlets. Holmes said he’s gotten more than 150 calls since Tuesday. He said he stands by his comments and is entitled to his opinion. I guess fellow Democrat Bull Connor was also “entitled to his opinion.” Right, Mr. Holmes? Holmes also felt the need to personally grill the bill’s sponsor with insulting questions: Holmes asked (Republican Mary Sue) McClurkin if she would let her daughter have a black baby, and when she said yes, asked what she’d do with it after it was born. “Let it run around in my living room and enjoy it as my grandchild,” she said. “With them other little blond children running around there?” Holmes said.
“That’s right,” McClurkin said. “Well I need to commend you then. It wouldn’t be one out of 100,000 to do that,” Holmes said. Those 150 callers from around the nation must have been rooting for an apology they didn’t get, because the evidence of press coverage is sparse. A Google News search on the Holmes’s full name returned about 55 items relating to his Tuesday conduct at the legislature. Roughly 8-10 are national establishment press outlets. Imagine the tidal wave of attention a white legislator would receive if he or she made an analougous comment about their willingness to allow their black daughter to have a child by a white father. If Holmes meant what he said about mortgaging his house, he’d better make an appointment with a lender this week, because “House Speaker Mike Hubbard said a little later that they’d identified more than 200 white families (in Alabama) who adopted black children.” I’d say that’s a “whole bunch,” Mr. Holmes.
Tijuanna Adetunji to challenge Democratic State Rep. Alvin Holmes ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead made the following statement regarding Holmes’ most recent comments: “Representative Holmes continues to spout racist and derogatory language on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives. Voters in his district should be embarrassed by him and should expect more from their representative. They deserve better. Most people in his district are Godfearing folks and oppose abortion; it is an insult to their intelligence to have ‘their’ representative ranting racial comments like he has done repeatedly during his political career. “Alvin Holmes is up for re-election this year and the voters in Montgomery County, District 78, should demand more of their representative. They have a chance to elect someone who will not embarrass them but will bring the highest level of integrity to District 78. Tijuanna Adetunji is the
Republican candidate running for House District 78 in November. She pledges to bring people together for the common good of all the people in the district.” Mrs. Adetunji released the following statement regarding Rep. Holmes recent tirade on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives: “Unlike my opponent, I promise by the grace of God I will work on issues that are important to the people of House District 78 and Alabama. Like working to give our children opportunities for a quality education, lowering the drop out rate and providing good paying jobs. Too many of our youth are falling through the cracks while Mr. Holmes seems to only want to divide people by continually making racial slurs on the House floor. If I am elected I will work hard to make life better for all the people in District 78.”
Alabama House passes four pro-life bills, including a ban on abortion after first heartbeat By Dustin Siggins lifesitenews.com On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives continued its work to enact pro-life legislation by passing four bills that protect life. Respectively, the bills: (1) ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected; (2) require women who want to abort over “lethal fetal anomalies” to know the “availability of perinatal hospice services”; (3) extend abortion waiting periods from 24 hours to 48 hours; (4) and require a birth
certificate to be shown for anyone claiming to give parental consent for an abortion. In a public statement, House Speaker Mike Hubbard said he was “proud to lead the House at a time when we have enacted more prolife protections than at any other period in Alabama history.” He also said, “Republicans in the Alabama House believe that life begins at conception and that a heartbeat is evidence of a viable life that deserves to be defended.” Hubbard told LifeSiteNews he
expects the bills to make it through the Senate as well. “Since our colleagues in the Senate share in the House’s pro-life beliefs we are hopeful that they will pass this important legislation,” he said. Alabama is one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Last year, the governor signed a law that would require admitting privileges for all doctors who commit abortions, but a temporary restraining order blocked the law from taking effect until at least March 24 of this year.