John Archibald: Can Inmates Ever Stop Serving their Time?
The problems with Alabama’s prisons are well documented. The state prison system is at almost twice capacity. It’s costing the state more money every year. Plus there are numerous allegations of poor, even illegal treatment of prisoners by employees. Those issues were part of a panel discussion this week called Issues and Ales. WBHM hosted the event along with the Alabama Media Group and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald listened to that conversation and shares his thoughts.
Calls are growing for the Justice Department to investigate how the closure of 31 rural driver’s license offices may affect voting. The state closed those offices last week due to budget cuts. The problem, say civil rights advocates, is residents must have a photo ID to vote. The most common ID is a driver’s license and Alabama now has 31 fewer places to get a new drivers license. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says state officials are taking steps to address the situation, but it’s not enough for the Black Belt. That’s an area of the state that’s poor, largely African American and disproportionately hit by the closures.
Governor Robert Bentley warned there would be cuts to state services if lawmakers didn’t pass enough new revenue measures for the budget that goes into effect Thursday. The budget includes some new money but still cuts many agencies about 6-percent. As a result state law enforcement announced Wednesday examiners will no longer travel to 31 part-time satellite driver’s license offices. It’s a move that some worry could affect voting. We talk about it with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.
Political observers have been watching the lead up to Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s corruption trial in periodic salvos tossed from both sides. Hubbard is scheduled to go on trial next year accused of using his public office for personal gain. The latest bomb blast comes from prosecutors and they’re emails from Hubbard that Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says paint the speaker as the worst kind of politician.
State lawmakers wrapped up a second special session Wednesday night, one that resolves a more than $200 million shortfall in the general fund budget. Despite the extra meeting time Alabama does have a part-time legislature and sometimes a lawmaker’s professional life conflicts with his or her public service. Governing bodies draft rules to mitigate those conflicts. But Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald says the way the state is apply some of those rules makes for open season on the very idea of ethics.
There are two big stories in state politics right now. There’s the special legislative session that started this week. Then there’s all the chatter around the governor’s divorce. Alabama’s First Lady Diane Bentley filed for divorce from Governor Robert Bentley last month after 50 years of marriage. That’s fueled rumors of an affair by the governor. He says this is a private matter and the legal filing has been sealed. Still the situation has drawn attention to happenings within the administration, particularly how a senior advisor is paid. We talk about that now with Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.