The city of Mobile, Alabama has the same problem as many other cities these days. Namely, people are being shot far too often for anyone’s comfort. Also, like other cities, it’s looking for potential solutions.
Where Mobile differs from so many other places, though, is just where it’s looking for those solutions.
While places like Pittsburgh are banning guns in an attempt to avoid another black swan event, Mobile is looking at a solution that’s far more constructive.
Mobile city officials, in an effort to address a rash of recent gun violence, could be looking at supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would give judges the authority to deny bail to someone viewed as a risk to reoffend.
Council members are looking at HB282, sponsored by state Rep. Chip Hill, R-Mobile. The proposal, if endorsed by the Legislature this session, would require a vote during the 2020 general election.
If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would give more flexibility for judges to detain someone in jail who is viewed as a public safety risk.
Alabama’s 118-year-old Constitution allows everyone who is arrested, and not convicted of a crime, the opportunity for bail unless the person is charged with a capital offense and the presumption of guilt is great.
“We are seeing violent offenders taken to jail released only to reoffend,” said James Barber, the city of Mobile’s executive director of public safety. “It goes back to the Alabama Constitution where everyone has a right to pre-trial bail except in capital offenses. When the evidence is sufficient to support a conviction and the likelihood that the person is going to reoffend, we are asking the judges to then hold them without bail so we can have a cooling off period.”
Honestly, that makes a hell of a lot of sense. I can only imagine how I’d feel if someone murdered a loved one of mine, only for me to learn that they’d been out on bail for some other crime.
This is especially true when you have people who have a history of this behavior. The legal system moves slowly, so it’s not unheard of for someone to commit multiple crimes before coming to trial. While Alabama does hold people for capital crimes, how much mayhem can someone create before actually killing someone?
What Mobile is considering would change that. It would make it so bail can be denied in cases where the individual is likely to offend again.
Now, I’m not saying this should pass. I’m not saying it shouldn’t, either. I haven’t delved too deeply into it to have an opinion either way.
What I do have an opinion on, though, is that I like how Mobile is looking at solutions that target the people committing crimes, not the innocent, law-abiding people who would be impacted by efforts to restrict gun ownership in some manner. How many other cities would benefit from doing the same thing? Probably, most of the ones we hear about on the news.
We can keep telling anti-gunners that the problem isn’t guns. It’s people. But, they won’t listen. Thankfully, the city of Mobile seems to have.