The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crime and Punishment

There sure is a lot of news about crime these days. Against the backdrop of actual crime, we learn that Birmingham is the nation's sixth most dangerous city. If they ranked "most dangerous suburbs of the most dangerous cities" I wonder where Bessemer would fall?

As crazy (his word, not mine) as Larry Langford's plans may be, at least he is talking about crime. Whether he and his new police chief can do anything about it is yet to be seen. But here in Bessemer, just a gunshot away from the magic city, we hear nothing from the mayor about crime. That's not to say nothing is happening...see the story a few days ago about Operation Blue Thunder. But the mayor should be the voice of the city. Wouldn't this be nice: once weekly the mayor sits down with reporters from the three "papers" for a little Q & A.

Then there is the FBI report that hate crimes are up. Even though we have no Alabama or federal hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation, the FBI still includes bias in this category in its statistics. Crimes against lesbians and gays were the third most commonly reported, at 15.5%, following racial motivation at 62% and religion at 19%. And just so no one feels left out, of the crimes based on sexual orientation, 2 % were against heterosexuals.

Raw numbers reveal 7,722 crimes based on racial, religion, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin and physical or mental disability bias in 2006. That is up from 7,163 in 2005.

In the Hartselle Enquirer a column titled The Alabama Scene had an interesting piece last week by Bob Martin, the editor of The Montogmery Independent. Here is a link to the column but I will just quote some highlights.

In an apparent rush to throw Siegelman in shackles and denying the former governor to even say goodbye to his family following his sentencing, the judge, Mark E. Fuller, a district judge in the Middle District of Alabama, failed to rule on the motion for release, gaveling down Siegelman’s lawyer when she pressed him for a ruling.

Nothing new there. We saw it judge chomping at the bit.

In an interview with the Associated Press following the trial, Robert Sigler, a retired criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama Law School, said that it is “extraordinarily unusual for people like (Siegelman and Scrushy) not to be allowed to remain free and given a reporting date or an appeals bond.” Sigler said it appears that the two were rushed off to prison to ensure that they would receive some punishment, even if their convictions were overturned on appeal. Otherwise, he said, “they might have never gone to prison.”

So...Judge Fuller thinking here...even if Siegelman is really innocent, let's be sure he spends some time in prison to embarrass his party and his family. We want people to think that if you are a democrat you can end up like this.

Then Martin raises questions about Fuller's business interests...that Fuller holds controlling interest over Doss Aviation, which received $200 million in Defense Department contracts while Fuller was presiding over the Siegelman/Scrushy case. The company also has contrcts with the Department of Justice, the prosecutors in the case. Can you say "conflict of interest?"

According to Martin, Fuller also never revealed that he had been a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, which participated in campaigns against Siegelman.

"Equal justice under the law?" Not hardly.

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