‘Disgusted to my core’: DA reacts to Tuesday’s Alabama inmate release

(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:25 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:34 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - “I’m disgusted to my core.” That was District Attorney C.J. Robinson’s reaction to the mass release of inmates across Alabama.

Robinson is district attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit, representing Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties. He said 10 criminals from his district are getting released.

Around 80 state prison inmates were released Tuesday, according to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. This is down from the 400-plus who were initially set for release. The releases are part of a new law that went into effect Tuesday.

“When you look at that list, there are people who maybe have a drug crime, but that is the extreme minority. There are several that have violent crimes. There’s a man that’s getting released from Autauga County who has an attempted murder charge of a police officer,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s office is working to notify every victim. He said the state has put a price tag on public safety.

“We’re worried about prison overcrowding and dollar signs and lawsuits. And I understand we have to deal with all those issues, but at some point in time, goodness gracious, we have got to focus back on protecting the public,” he said.

Robinson said with the release of this many prisoners at one time, he has no doubt we’ll see an increase in crime.

“When you look back at the the early mandatory supervision early release from last year, I requested a list for our three counties, and there were 96 names on that list,” he said.

One of those people released last year was Michael Butler, who is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two girls in Prattville after his release, and he’s suspected of murder in another district.

“The troubling part about this was that he appeared to be an inmate, like when you would look, he was listed as an inmate of the Department of Corrections, but he was not. He was at home. He got the mandatory release. And so he was essentially serving the end of his sentence at home,” Robinson said.

Robinson said in Alabama, unless someone gets life without parole or the death penalty, it’s almost impossible for him to tell victims what the sentence will be for the person who hurt them. He said it’s possible for a person to get a 15-year sentence and serve less than five years.

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