When I was released from an Alabama state prison 17 years ago, I found a program out-of-state.
Ten years ago, I watched as vigilantes and local politicians pressured Shady Court to shut down a transitional program for registered persons.
Last year, efforts to open another inmate post-release program at another former motel were also stymied by local political rabble-rousers.
Now, Rep. Andrew Sorrell is attempting to pass a bill (named after a child, of course) to force those desiring to help former offenders to pay fees and get approval from the county commission to operate, and we all know that the commission would never allow such a program to exist.
Here are a few facts:
• Most sex crimes occur at home by someone known to the victim.
• Most sex crime arrests are of those with no prior sex offense arrests.
• People convicted of sex offenses have annual re-offense rates of less than 1%, which can be lowered further with stable housing provided by transitional programs, particularly in the first months following release, when re-offense risk is the highest.
By contrast, people convicted of theft, drug or other violent crimes have a significantly higher re-offense rate, yet they aren’t on a public registry, or given the same level of scrutiny in Sorrell’s bill. Apparently, gangbangers and dope boys are welcome but not a registered person.
As a former Colbert County resident, I’m appalled by the continued incompetence of local politicians. The registry should be abolished, and pols like Sorrell should be deposed.