Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on COVID-19 pandemic, prisons, and politics

Coronavirus

Birmingham, Ala. (WIAT) — Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman wants to change the United States criminal justice system. That he’s doing the media release of his new book, “Stealing Our Democracy: How the political assassination of a governor threatens our nation”, during a pandemic only underscores the urgency of his mission. The coronavirus is spreading in some federal and state prisons and it’s claiming lives.

Siegelman, who is also a former federal inmate, was sentenced to 88 months in prison on bribery and obstruction of justice convictions, but he has always said he was politically targeted. His story was featured on the CBS’ “60 Minutes” and written about extensively in The New York Times, even garnering a letter of support from a bi-partisan contingency of attorneys general from around the country.

“When I was in prison, I felt compelled to warn people about the dangers of the abuse of power, whether it’s by a prosecutor or by the president of the United States,” Siegelman said. “And so this book is not about me. Well, it’s about my life and how I became governor and how I became a target of those people who wanted me out of office. But, more than that it’s about saving our democracy by changing our criminal justice laws so we can protect those people who are most vulnerable to the overwhelming power of government.”

Inmates across the country are gravely concerned about the spread of coronavirus inside the facilities where they are incarcerated. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has transferred more than 2,000 inmates to home confinement. Forty-two inmates have died in their facilities as of May 6. The Alabama Department of Corrections has had one inmate death and eight inmates test positive for the new coronavirus. Corrections officers who work in federal and state prisons have tested positive for the virus as well.

“It is my hope that out of this coronavirus will grow a national dialogue of prison reform and criminal justice reform,” Siegelman said. “We’ve seen innovation in business and delivery of goods and services. So I hope that we will also give some creative thought to reforming our criminal justice system.”

You can watch the full interview with Don Siegelman as he discusses the justice system’s treatment of former national security Advisor Michael Flynn. The interview took place just two days before the Department of Justice dropped the criminal case against Flynn.

@sherrijackson interviews Don Siegelman about his new book

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