Archive for Alabama

Disturbing Sentencing News From Alabama



When it comes to meting out punishment in courts, there's sentencing guidelines and generally they are followed. But judges are, for the most part, given discretion based on the facts and evidence in a case. Sometimes additional time is tacked on, sometimes a lesser sentence is granted. And then there's always the consideration of probation for some or all of the term. From

ATHENS, Alabama - A man accused of raping a teenage acquaintance was convicted by a Limestone County jury this afternoon, according to District Attorney Brian Jones.

Some of the incidents occurred when she was under 16, [14 years old for two of the attacks] which included the second-degree counts, and one when she was over 16, which led to the first-degree count of forcible sex.

After deliberating for just under two hours, the jury returned with guilty verdicts for one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape against 25-year-old Austin Smith Clem, Jones said. Clem will be sentenced Nov. 13 in Limestone County Circuit Court.

It doesn't seem like the jury had a particularly difficult time in reaching a verdict. Then two days later, the judge didn't seem to have too much difficulty in meting out sentencing...

According to Mother Jones who carried this story, here's the judges declared sentence for Mr. Clem:

Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to 10 years in prison for each of the second-degree rape charges and 20 years for first-degree rape.

If you do the crime, you gotta do the time -- isn't that how the saying goes?

But Woodroof structured the sentence in such a way that Clem will only be hit with community corrections and probation. Clem will have to register as a sex offender and pay fines and restitution—a total of $2,381, according to the sentencing document provided to Mother Jones—but he will not serve jail time unless he violates the terms of his sentencing.

Huh? Whoa. What?

On Wednesday, a judge in Athens, Alabama, ruled that the rapist will be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.

According to Clem's sentencing order, which Brian Jones, the Limestone County district attorney, provided to Mother Jones, Clem will serve the first half of his sentence under the supervision of the Limestone County community corrections program. The program is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders who are "likely to maintain a productive and law-abiding life as a result of accountability, guidance and direction to services they need," according to the program's website.

Multiple rape CONVICTIONS and no jail sentence? These weren't plea agreements. These charges went to trial and this man was found guilty by a jury. Sounds to me like Lady Justice just got raped and this time by Circuit Judge James Woodroof.

This guy Clem is sentenced to a program which "is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders." Excuse me. Income tax evasion and driving without a license are nonviolent crimes. But RAPE, and especially of a minor? Where's this judge stashing his crack pipe, under his robes?

Dan Totten, Clem's defense attorney, did agree that this was a light, but fair sentence. After all, he points out,

"But [Clem's] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they're serving beer, he can't say, 'Can I have one?' If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can't do that…It's not a slap on the wrist."

He can't ask for a beer at a party or go buy a lottery ticket across state lines? Are you sh**ing me? That is harsh.

Can the victim just go out and ask for her innocence back? What's her lifetime sentence compared with three years of probation?

Somebody talk me down from this, if you think you can.

While you're at it, don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack


Crazy But True - Alabama


it's the law

Now I believe I've only been to Alabama once, and must say that in passing through, it was quite nice, actually. I did have long hair back then and was called "Girly Girl" twice, but I'm sure any college-age stranger would get noticed along the interstate. And perhaps the folks I ran into weren't as enlightened as those today.

I was thinking about a trip to the South this winter season, to meet up with an old buddy who's a New Englander and migrates to the South every snow season. It was just a though. So, I headed to my trusty Internets machine and I did that Googly stuff and found all sorts of goodies about the southern states.

One site led to another until I found my way here to weird but true laws within the United States. I gotta say, there's still some wacky regulations on the books.

How wacky? I'll share a few with you. These are for Alabama only. Keep in mind, it's not so much that the law is still on the books, it's how the hell did it get on the books in the first place. Think of what public outcry there must have been for these laws to be passed --

It is illegal to play solitaire on Sundays.

I bet they also prohibit singing the song, "All By Myself" when alone in the shower, Sundays only, of course.

Putting salt on a railroad track may be punishable by death.

My mom got mad if you put salt on her meat loaf but she was a good cook and I can understand fussy chefs, but isn't this is taking things pretty damn far. Besides, who eats railroad track? Why else salt it? Does it make you wonder how many people saw the electric chair for this offense?

In Lee County, it's illegal to sell peanuts after Sundown on Wednesday.

After sundown? Till when, the next day? Friday? Man, I can see why the circus never comes to town in Lee County, Alabama. Poor elephants.

It is illegal to wear a fake moustache that causes laughter in church.

C'mon. You kidding me? Why else would you put on a fake moustache unless you wanted someone to laugh. And what's the matter with a little laughter in church? I mean if you are stuck there for a good part of your morning, why not add a little levity?

Okay. Well, now you and I know what not to do in Alabama the next time we're there. Forewarned is forearmed... or something like that.

Say, while I've got you in a good mood, this would be a good time to ask you, if you already haven't, to make a donation to our quadrannual drive. We really appreciate you contributions. As Laffy and Paddy say, "Without you, there would be no us."


VIDEO- Bye-bye women's rights: "If you live where the Republican party is in control now, right now, this is your life."


women's health clinics in jeopardy abortion rights maddow

So much for reaching out to women in the GOP's increasingly unsuccessful attempts to rebrand the party:

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Rachel Maddow:

Where Republicans have taken the reins of state power across the country, they have used it single-mindedly to shut down women's health clinics just since the last election.

And it is not like we didn't have a national fight about this issue in that election. I mean, for their national ticket in 2012, Republicans picked an anti-abortion hard-liner ticket, a vice presidential contender who said he would even force a rape victims to bear a rapist's child against their will. And a presidential contender who, for his part, pledged frequently to end Planned Parenthood. Said he would cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he would end it.

He said he would overturn Roe v. Wade. That's what he hoped for. The Democrats responded to the Republicans' initiatives by  stepping up their support for women's rights....

...In the Republican/Democratic general election races all over the country, saying that Democrats would be the ones to defend women's rights and the abilities to decide their own pregnancies without the government. Democrats warning across the country that a vote for Republicans would be a vote to ban abortion in this country...

Republicans lost the last election nationally really badly. They lost the white house really badly. They lost seats in the Senate. They lost seats in the House. Nationally, in the last election, Republicans lost and Democrats won.

But, national isn't everything. And if Republicans are in control in your state, this is what they have decided to do with state governance now.

Since that election, that is what they have decided state governance is for now. If you live where the Republican party is in control now, right now, this is your life.

Iknow its not a beltway story, doesn't feel like a national story because nobody adds up what happens in the individual states to see how it affects American women, to see how it affects American rights in an aggregate sense, that's not the way we do beltway reporting in this country, but this is a national story that is significant in terms of the way it's going to affect women's health, women's lives, and American families for generations to come.

This is the national story.


What I will not write about today



Sometimes I get so frustrated and/or disheartened and/or annoyed by some of the news stories of the day that I can’t bring myself to write about them. Here are a few recent reports that made my blood pressure hit the roof. I am avoiding delving into them at length out of concern for my physical and mental health.

  • Defense Attorney Calls Marine Accused Of Sexual Assault ‘The Victim’-- Clearly, the women were lying. They always do. And they wear provocative clothing, look attractive, and make themselves irresistible, and sometimes even drink (!) so they're obviously asking for it. Men simply can't control themselves when women do slutty stuff like that. It's clearly all the fault of those who are assaulted. All of it. Always.

See what I mean? So who’s up for a couple of Margs or a trough of wine?

drunk wine obama romney


Live Streaming Video- President Obama Honors the BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide 2:05p EST



VIDEO: VP Biden speaks at annual "Bloody Sunday" commemoration of 1965 Selma to Montgomery bridge march


biden selma Alabama voters rights

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NBC: Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Alabama at the annual commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery bridge march of 1965.

"We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination, violence that still existed in large swaths of the nation."

"What all of you did that day, and the next, and the next, and the next, allowed America to... begin to see the potential that actually existed maybe, maybe for the first time."

"What happened at the bridge generated a lesson that was absolutely clear... it was palpable... There's courage to stand up to moral imperatives of the day... saying the right thing... But there's a different kind of courage standing and looking at somebody who has a club in his hand, and you KNOW... The courage to look evil in the eye."

"... Believing that although the cost had been high, victory was inevitable."

"We owe Jesse Jackson... We owe John Lewis, and so many more. We owe all of you a debt that we can never be fully repaid."

"I wonder how many people remember what the fight was about... But today you say... it was about the right to vote, nothing else. Just the right to vote. It wasn't about the right to go to 'somebody's school'... Most everybody already thought by '65 [the right to vote] was pretty settled."

"You walked out of the doors of the... church... that's why, in spite of the certain knowledge that you'd get beaten, you stepped your foot on that bridge and defied and ultimately defeated those voices of prejudice. That's why you did it. Because you know and every American knows... that without the right to vote, there's no right guaranteed, and you can't count on anyone else voting your interests. YOU gotta vote your interests."

"You broke the back of the forces of evil. .... That march didn't end in Montgomery. You know it continues today."

"Never did I think 40 years earlier that I'd be standing on that platform [with Pres. Obama]. Things have changed, they've gotten better, but folks, there's still a lot more."

"In 2011-12, we were preparing to run for re-election. 40-41 states passed 180 laws to restrict the right to vote. 180 laws. Some more pernicious than others. We saw it with state legislators working to end same day registration, cutting back early voting, requiring voter ID where no fraud was ever shown, restricting voters registration drives... Here we are, 48 years after all you did, and we're still fighting? In 2011, '12, and '13? We were able to beat back most of those attempts, but that doesn't mean it's over."

"Strom Thurmond voted for re-authorization, and yet it's being challenged in the Supreme Court of the U.S. as we stand here today. Legislators in a number of states are looking for new ways to restrict and make more difficult for African Americans and other minorities to vote."

"Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act... We can't let our guard down."

"Here's what John said [at the National Democratic Convention]... He said, "They're changing the rules. They're cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. Too many people struggled," he went on to say, "And die to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote. We have come too far together to turn back."

Please watch all the way to the end.


GOP Alabama Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin: "When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body."



There goes that whole GOP personhood meme... unless, of course, Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin thinks an organ should have the right to vote, own a gun, and carry misspelled signs calling President Obama a gay Marxist commie Kenyan. I can see the protests now: Organs' rights! Organs' rights! Or as Texans would scrawl, ograns':

secede texas

Via BuzzFeed

When asked why she would vote to limit the ability for women in Alabama to get abortions, McClurkin gave an answer that's left more than a few people confused:

"When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body," McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. "That's a big thing. That's a big surgery. You don't have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that."

One, it's not a child, it's a fetus.

And two, as BuzzFeed notes, not only is McClurkin physiologically confused (and sadly-yet-comically ignorant), she also failed to realize that the average human liver is larger than the average 20-week-old fetus. And that human skin is an organ, our largest organ, another organ that's larger than a fetus... which is not an organ.



2 a : a differentiated structure (as a heart, kidney, leaf, or stem) consisting of cells and tissues and performing some specific function in an organism

b : bodily parts performing a function or cooperating in an activity <the eyes and related structures that make up the visual organs>

If a fetus were an organ (I just had a momentary mental image of Barbara Walters asking a celebrity, "If you were an organ, what kind of organ would you be?"), there should be no objection by pro-forced-birthers to removal, unless of course, they are also opposed to life-saving medical procedures.

Which many who are anti-abortion under any circumstances are.

It's becoming clearer than ever that when the Republicans expressed a desire to reinvent themselves, they meant morphing into something even stupider than Bobby Jindal imagined.

H/t: @samuelpeepses