By Stephen A. Cooper
The last time Alabama Governor Bentley penned a column for al.com, I wrote in The Alabama Political Reporter that his op-ed proved he was delusional, but this time, as it concerns his May 29 open letter to all Alabamians (“Governor Bentley wants to hear from you”), I can’t sugarcoat it: He’s madder than a jackass chewing on bumblebees.
Assuming, I guess, Alabamians plum forgot about his boorish behind the scenes booty-grabbing with “aide” Rebekah Mason Caldwell, Bentley’s babbling May 29 Bible-heavy missive is littered with pious platitudes and, in some instances, gibberish piled high on a slathering of outright lies.
One of the biggest whoppers: “It’s the pursuit of justice that has driven my Administration to take on the ambitious task to completely transform Alabama’s prison system and solve decades-old problems within our correctional institutions. It’s ‘setting things right’ that led us to look at Tutwiler Women’s Prison, with its long, dark history of abuse, and say no more.”
The “say no more” part is admittedly confusing but, giving it its most charitable interpretation, Governor Bentley seems to be referencing Tutwiler’s disturbing history of trying to sweep its ‘abuses’ of poor and vulnerable women prisoners — some of which occurred under Governor Bentley’s watch — under the rug.
What is crystal clear about the statement — and Governor Bentley’s newest opinion piece on al.com as a whole — is that he should really consider resigning and moving to New York City where, based on his ability to bamboozle, he’d be a natural selling bridges in Brooklyn to the clueless and naive.
This is particularly so if he thinks anyone believes him when he says “it’s the pursuit of justice” and “setting things right” that led him to finally give some thought — albeit short-sighted, muddled, and ultimately illogical thought — about how to solve Alabama’s massive prison problems, and its over-reliance on incarceration.
Let’s get real Robert: You wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about prison reform absent the threat of more embarrassing federal lawsuits from the Department of Justice, from attorney Bryan Stevenson’s group, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), and from other attorneys and activists who have had enough of watching humans suffer — in addition to those chilling YouTube videos still circumnavigating the globe — showing chaotic riots complete with fires inside of Holman Prison (in Atmore, Alabama).
Bentley opines: “Justice is about restoring broken relationships among communities, individuals and institutions. It’s about setting things right.”
I wonder: What kind of “justice” awaits the beleaguered Governor who promoted himself as squeaky clean, for adultery, followed by the public break-up of his marriage and blatant breach of both his wife’s and the public’s trust?
What kind of “justice” can heal the Herculean hurt Governor Bentley’s hubris has allowed to rain down on Alabama, a state Bentley says but nobody believes, he can make “great” again by 2019?
After reading breaking news reports about Bentley’s testimony at Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ongoing corruption trial and pondering the future of suspended Alabama Supreme Court judge Roy Moore, I wonder, as surely many Alabamians do, whether “justice” can ever wipe away the stains that currently mar all three branches of Alabama’s deeply troubled government — stains that can, if not rinsed clean, lead to the state’s damnation and financial ruin for many, many generations to come — preventing it from ever being “great.”
About the Author: Stephen Cooper is a former federal and D.C. public defender. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California.