Criminal justice reform tops attorney general's agenda

Published: Jan. 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2014 at 11:17 PM CST
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Attorney General Luther Strange announced his agenda on Wednesday.
Attorney General Luther Strange announced his agenda on Wednesday.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is leading a push to reform criminal justice in the state.

He stopped in Huntsville Wednesday to announce several of his goals in the upcoming legislative session, including plans to change the appeals process for killers on Death Row and make it a capital offense to kill someone on a school campus.

Strange, flanked by local officials and lawmakers, listed off what he wants to see changed.

The first issue, the Fair Justice Act, would totally revamp the appeals process for convicted killers on Death Row. The revamped process would prevent appeals from dragging out for years. All parties could then deal with a case when the facts are still fresh.

The average stay on Death Row is 16 years, and Strange said that's not justice.

"To give you an idea, you can cut the time potentially in half, and still protect defendants' rights and make sure that this interminable process has an end to it and that justice is done," he said.

Another reform would make it the murder of a person on a school campus, daycare, or anyone covered by protective order a capital offense.

A further proposal carries a nice name, but could definitely ruffle feathers.

Called the Child Protection and Safe Streets Act, the proposal grants wire tapping for law enforcement with a court order through the Attorney General's office. The wire taps would be used on suspected murderers, kidnappers, those involved in child porn or sex offenses, human trafficking and drug offenders. 43 other states currently allow it.

Lawmakers head back into session next week, where the bill package is expected to encounter heavy debate.

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