Monday a Hoover woman was killed by a former partner in her apartment. Jeffery Dewayne Mixon had several protection orders against him. One, from April 2013, described Mixon beating the woman, raping her and threatening to kill her and her children. According to media reports, Mixon was never charged with any crime in that incident.
Perhaps if he’d been accused of smoking a blunt, this woman would still be alive. Looking at data from the Alabama Sentencing Commission, in 2013, of the 22,242 Alabama prisoners incarcerated for the top 25 offenses, six are non-violent drug-related offenses. Together there are 4,232 prisoners in Alabama there for drug offenses. By contrast Alabama imprisoned 1,457 convicted rapists in 2013. Possession of Controlled Substance is the most frequent felony offense at conviction.
According to the best available estimates, there are more untested rape kits in the Birmingham Police Department’s storage locker than there are rapists in Alabama’s prisons.
The last time anyone looked into Alabama’s rape kit backlog was in 2009, where CBS News found at least 2,100 rape kits in storage. The Birmingham Police Department did not know whether they had been tested. They did know that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Laboratories had a current backlog of 270 kits and an average turnaround of 180 to 270 days, according to the state crime lab. You can rape a lot of people, and kill your girlfriend, in 270 days.
In 2013, the number of rapes in Alabama surged by 56 percent. It wasn’t a crime spree, but rather that Alabama conformed to federal law mandating that rape of males and crimes previously categorized as sodomy and sexual torture be counted as well. Alabama had been under-reporting rapes in its annual crime statistics for years.
And that’s the reported rapes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that only 41.6 percent of rapes committed are actually reported to law enforcement.
The Alabama justice system seems to have made it a goal to make up for the lack of seriousness about rape by taking drug cases far too seriously. Alabama state laws don’t consider weight or amount when it comes to drug crimes, which is unusual. In most states, being found with any amount of any drug other than marijuana doesn’t result in a felony. In Alabama, it does. Not only does a drug conviction result in a felony, but an automatic driver’s license revocation. This, of course, makes getting to rehab or drug classes more difficult.
What if Alabama took rape as seriously as weed? An Alabama woman might still be alive.