Amendment fighting “revolving door” of crime passes AL house committee

Mobile County
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WKRG) – Update: Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber tells News 5 the bill has passed the house committee unanimously. 

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber is proposing an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that would prevent the revolving door of violent offenders committing new crimes while out on bond.

Currently, judges can order a suspect held without bond if they’re considered a flight risk or a danger to the community, but that’s not always a guarantee. This amendment would keep those types of offenders behind bars.

They say it will help fight the violence in the city of Mobile.

“The violence has got to stop,” said Essie Etheridge. 

Etheridge lives on Tuttle Street in Mobile. Saturday night, someone was shot just blocks away from her home.

“We need a change,” said Etheridge.

The shooting on Tuttle Street was one of five over a 48-hour period this weekend. Another, on Dauphin Island Parkway, left two people dead. The suspect in that crime granted bond Monday. And that’s part of the problem.

“It’s just an in-and-out program. They’ll be sent out for a crime, and it’s just a revolving door,” said Etheridge.

Monday morning, city and county leaders revealed how they plan to fix the problem.

“Offenders that are released from violent crimes back into our community, only to commit more violent crimes, and then they’re re-arrested only to be released again,” said Mobile Public Safety Director, James Barber.

Barber unveiled a bill that would amend the state constitution at a news conference where he was supported by Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, and Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich. 

Right now, capital murder is the only charge where suspects have to be held without bond. This amendment would expand that to offenses punishable by life in prison without parole or life imprisonment when the proof is evident or the presumption is great, or to anyone who poses a clear danger to the community

“Class A felonies, rapes, sodomy, murder, robbery in the first degree, those type of felonies. Very very serious,” said Rich.

“Once they start pulling triggers on guns, they do not stop until they’re incarcerated. And this would give us that ability,” said Barber.

Etheridge says she’s hopeful there will be a change.

“I think this will, I’m hoping and praying that it will help deter. Because they’re in and out of the program. It’s not working. So, it’s got to be something to make them think, and I’m hoping this will be it,” said Etheridge.

The city is working with State Rep. Chip Brown to submit the bill to the Alabama Legislature. Brown will introduce the bill to the Alabama State House of Representatives Tuesday. If it is passed through the legislature, it would go up for a vote.

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