Conservative advocates of criminal justice reform sometimes have their “tough on crime” bona fides questioned, but Alabama Governor-Elect Robert Bentley demonstrates why such criticisms are unfounded. On his campaign website, he listed the following as a point in his “Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention” platform:
“Non-violent criminals, and only non-violent criminals, should be rehabilitated to prevent their return to crime when they have finished serving their sentences.”
The italics are his — and they’re noteworthy. He goes on to say, “As Governor, I will ensure that criminals receive a punishment that fits the crime they committed. Unfortunately, Alabama’s criminal justice system suffers from intense overcrowding. This is because the ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ mentality does not work for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes.” Bentley was explaining to voters that he is serious about rehabilitating non-violent criminals, but he is not going to put Alabama’s public safety at risk by focusing rehabilitation and re-entry resources on violent offenders. Those offenders will remain incapacitated in prison, where they belong.
Soft on crime? Alabama voters don’t think so. They’ve elected Bentley to become their 53rd Governor, and he’ll get the chance to start enacting his smart and tough platform on January 17th.