OUR VIEW: It’s time for stiffer sentencing for abuse of power crimes

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

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Late last week former Chambers County Deputy District Attorney Roland Sledge was sentenced to 46 months by specially appointed Chambers County Circuit Judge Brooke Reid.

According to a press release from the state attorney general’s office, despite an objection from the prosecution, Reid split the sentence and Sledge will only serve 12 months in county jail before being placed on probation and paying restitution of $302,416.36.

On Feb. 25, Sledge pled guilty to theft of property first degree, a Class B felony, for taking more than $300,000 from three conservatorships he was responsible for.

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In a press release, Attorney General Steve Marshall said Sledge took advantage of people that entrusted him and misused his legal authority.

With all that being true, the sentence, in our opinion, seems to be on the lighter side. The potential punishment for theft first degree in Alabama is two to 20 years in prison.

Sure, no one was physically hurt by what Sledge did. However, the money was placed in his control, and he chose to use the money for his own use.

What’s worse, the money was to be used to care for three juveniles.

Sledge used his power for his gain, a practice that we’ve seen from several public officials the last few years in Chambers County.

While Marshall says his office is committed to holding individuals in power accountable for illegal activity, when does the court system follow suit?

In the grand scheme of things, 12 months is very little time, and there is no way to know how long it will take to pay off the restitution amount.

While we have great respect for those in our judicial system, it’s also our job to ensure accountability, and a stiffer penalty would’ve certainly sent a stronger message to anyone in the future who chooses to use their position to steal from others — especially children.