Alabama Legislature Should Reign in Decades Long Death Penalty Appeals

Published 10:21 am Friday, November 5, 2021

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By PAUL DEMARCO | Guest Columnist

This past week the state of Alabama executed a man who had been convicted in 1991 of the brutal murder of Trussville resident Sharma Johnson.

The 22-year-old victim was kidnapped and murdered by the perpetrator who was convicted by a jury of these crimes, but it took more than 30 years for justice to be served.

The family of this young woman has suffered, and it took way too long for the sentence to be carried out.

When the Alabama Legislature is back in session in two months, they should address the length of appeals for capital punishment cases.

Every man or woman convicted of a capital crime is guaranteed due process, and the appeal is automatic in these cases, but 30 years is not fair to the victim, the victim’s family or the citizens of this state. Public safety is the most important priority for our state representatives and senators. These appeals that go on for decades must be stopped.

Lawmakers can pass legislation that will allow for a fair and streamlined appellate process but in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of those victims and their families.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.