Alabama parole board stealing a page from American Idol except not at all
SOURCE – Alabama prisoner No. 269538, Shane Clifford Stone, was ready for his shot to walk free. He wasn’t at the parole hearing in Montgomery, but his file was, detailing his background and his statement to a parole investigator. Like most such hearings in Alabama, the setting on this recent morning was a large room at the headquarters of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, inside the old St. Margaret’s Hospital.Blink and you may miss the entire thing. Like many parole hearings, the events unfolded quickly. Board member Robert Longshore, who on this day was taking his turn to preside, ran through Stone’s extensive criminal history – seven felony convictions in just 10 years. “If you think that was bad news, I’ve got more for you,” said Longshore, who’s known for peppering hearings with tart quips. Longshore explained to Stone’s family members present to support him that he had been caught with drugs inside prison. Stone’s aunt told the board that her nephew had a “game plan” for a good future. “I feel like Shane has matured,” she said. Added another relative: “He’s been talking like he’s changed. He’s been talking about God. … Shane’s problem is he gets around the same crew and gets on drugs.” Like the majority of hearings, no one appeared to oppose the parole. Still, Longshore didn’t offer much hope: “He’s pushed every button you can push to not get paroled.” In a span of minutes, it was time to deliberate. The three parole board members do not retire to chambers to contemplate the testimony and the law as a judge would do.
Instead, parole board members more closely resemble the judges on “American Idol,” putting their heads together to quietly confer before returning to an upright position. The verdict for Stone – parole denied. The decision was unanimous. It usually is.
The person who wrote the headline to the story deserves a raise because I didn’t click the Kate Upton pictures as fast as I clicked the link to the story.
I was really hoping Alabama flipped the justice system on its head and was having a talent show for parole, because that would be amazing and I would love to see ‘Bobby the Redneck Drunk Who Got Caught Dealing Meth’ singing Brooks & Dunn while ‘Tyrone the Drug Dealer Who May or May Not Have Taken Extra Years To Protect His Crew’ sings some Teddy P.
Instead, the comparison to the greatest competition show on TV is solely because there are three judges who discuss someone’s future, but here’s where the story should have gone into more detail (speaking as the award-winning journalist that I am when I’m not getting hammered and watching Idol): who on the parole board is the Simon, who just looks at criminals and says “simply put, you are the worst criminal in the history of crime. Never in my life would I let someone who couldn’t figure out how to mug someone without getting caught would be able to be a perfect citizen.”
Is there a Paula, who just rambles until the guy trying to get freed says “Wait a sec – I’m in here and she’s not?” Is there a Randy parole board guy who calls everyone “dawg?” What about a crazy one who may or may not be on drugs like Steven Tyler? Or a dead sexy one like Keith Urban? Is there a Horrible Harry? Or a J-Lo who lets all the minorities go but is extra hard on the white contestants?
Also, is there a golden ticket for those freed?
So many questions. Need these answers AS, AP. Try to be better next time Brendan Kirby.