(Tonya Terry WSFA 12 News, Attorney General Steve Marshall/Facebook, YHN)
Late last month, the people of Alabama were repulsed to learn that former pastor and serial rapist, Mack Charles Andrews, Jr., was released from prison after serving only half of his 15-year sentence. What most Alabamians might not know is that Andrews was not released by mistake, not through error or misapplication of law, not by an especially lenient judge or parole board — Andrews was freed by broken policies adopted into law by the State of Alabama.
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Coincidentally, a law enacted by the Alabama Legislature just a few short weeks ago could have given Andrews the chance to get out even earlier. The Education Incentive Time Act aimed to provide inmates with the prospect of earning a sentence reduction upon the completion of certain education programs while incarcerated. As passed by the Senate, the only prisoners not eligible to pursue a sentence reduction were those sentenced to life imprisonment or death, and those serving time for committing a sex offense against a child. Because our laws define a “child” as one who is under the age of 12, and because Andrews’ charges involved victims over the age of 12, the bill would have made him eligible for early parole consideration, on top of the near-automatic “good time” sentence reduction that he already received.
My office fought to ensure that this legislation did not become law and succeeded in getting all sex offenders and most violent offenders excluded from the significant double benefit of free education and the possibility of early release. Incredibly, we were met with fierce opposition in doing so. In recent weeks, lazy journalists and criminal-justice warriors have lamented the fact that more prisoners were not included in the new law, while conspicuously failing to mention that the now-excluded offenders were rapists, murderers, armed robbers, and the like.