Allen Tullos (author); ALABAMA GETAWAY; University of Georgia Press (Nonfiction: Political Science) $24.95 ISBN: 9780820330495
Byline: Karl Helicher
The "Heart of Dixie" is what Alabamians like to call their home state, but the realities behind this image, as the author demonstrates, reveal a place flawed by minimal support of public services, an abusive penal system, disregard for the environment, and regressive taxes. The author, a son of Alabama himself, offers an impassioned (some readers will say biased) account of how the ghosts of slavery, the "Lost Cause," and Governor George Wallace haunt the state and inflame its inequalities.
At times Tullos calls Alabama the "sez-you" state, for its stubbornness to respond to modernization. An illuminating chapter on over-crowded prisons, which have historically emphasized punishment over rehabilitation, concludes that because Alabama ranks last among all states in spending per prisoner, and provides so many incompetent public defenders, inmates have little hope for turning their lives around.
As in all states, the buck stops with its chief executive, and Alabama's governors, following in the footsteps of George Wallace, receive the author's harsh scrutiny. These "oafs of office" pander to voters by attacking affirmative action, feminists, gays, welfare cheaters, and "tree-huggers." Governor Fob James, who reinstated the chain gang for prisoners, blatantly avoided appointing women and minorities to government positions; Governor Guy Hunt was removed from office for campaign fraud; and Governor...