Police, Prosecutors Navigate Revolving Prison Door

Police, Prosecutors Navigate Revolving Prison Door

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Mobile Police are very familiar with Desmond Longmire. He has a rap sheet with more than 20 charges in just six years with a distinct pattern.

"Burglary, burglary, receiving stolen property, burglary, breaking into a vehicle, theft…," said Chris Levy of the Mobile Police Department, reading off Longmire's arrest record.

In 2010 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But a year and a half later he was out and arrested on another vehicle burglary charge.

It's a problem police say they are finding time and time again; a revolving door people going into prison -and coming out only to commit the same crime again.

Take Ted Snow for example, a career criminal who police first ran into in 1987. Since then a slew of burglary charges arrested as recently as last month. It's to the point where police can identify him as a suspect just by looking at the scene.

"We look at his history and we look at the crimes and we can tell, certain types of houses certain times of day. He kicks in the back door and takes guns and jewelry," said Levy.

It's a frustrating cycle for police and prosecutors

"It's the number one battle that we fight everyday at the mobile county district attorney's office - as fast as we can get someone in behind bars in prison they are being released," said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich. "To me the problem is that there is not enough space and if you did some research you would see that we haven't build a prison in years and years and years in the state of Alabama."

State prisons are operating at close to 200 percent of capacity and the only to make way for new prisoners is to release and parole current prisoners.

"When you supervise 67,000 people you are going to have some people that don't want to be free and are going to go back to the prison system," said Eddie Cook, Assistant Executive Director of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.

He says the goal is provide supervised release of inmates who aren't a danger to society.

"That is a hard task for anybody to know because you don't have a crystal ball and you don't can't go inside people's minds to know when they are going to and commit a crime and you have to make that judgement on every case they grant parole to," said Cook.

The problem is that there simply isn't enough money.

"The answer clearly lies in the fact that you need more money, you need more personnel and you need more space," said Levy.

"If you look at the budget now you can't build enough prisons to house everybody that certain people in society feel needs to be locked up," said Cook.

"To me it's all about priorities and is it their priority to make sure our community is safer. Because you are exactly right it does come down to money but the legislature is the one who determines who gets the money and where," said Rich.

 

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