Editor’s Note: This is an opinion column.
By Paul DeMarco
So another Alabama Legislative Session has come and gone.
This session resulted in many storylines that folks will be analyzing for weeks on the long-term implications for the state and all Alabama citizens.
One of the most important bills that passed was the Sergeant Nick Risner Act, which would bar the early release of felons from Alabama State Prisons if they had been convicted of a death of another person with a deadly weapon. Too many inmates convicted of violent crimes have gotten out of prison to commit more of the same and create more crime victims.
The bill was introduced after the murder of Sheffield Police Officer Nick Risner, who was killed in the line of duty this past fall by a felon who should have never been on the streets. The man that shot and killed Sgt. Risner had been released from prison after only serving three years of a 10-year sentence for manslaughter because of Alabama’s good time laws. Sgt. Risner was one of three police officers in Alabama killed by gunfire in the line of duty in 2021. Last year was the deadliest year ever for law enforcement nationwide.
It was important for Alabama lawmakers to approve legislation that would put public safety first as there had been a number of bills passed in the most recent four years which weakened the state’s criminal justice system.
The effort to soften penalties for criminals has been a factor in the national spike in crime. Alabama has been no different, as the violence in our state has mirrored what has happened across the country. And this effort will continue next year as more progressive advocacy groups work to take away vital tools from prosecutors and release more inmates from state prisons.
Voters need to remind candidates for Alabama state office this election season that they expect public safety to always be their number one priority.
However, when we look back at the 2022 Alabama Legislative Session, the passage of the Sergeant Nick Risner Act was a success for the state’s State Representatives and Senators and the right way to honor this fallen officer.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives. Follow on Twitter at @Paul_DeMarco.