Crime and punishment drive Alabama politics. Every time a major story about crime or violence or prisons breaks in the news, there is backlash from Alabama law enforcement and lawmakers calling for even more punitive measures in response. That backlash often provokes passionate responses from advocacy groups who point toward existing failures in our system of mass incarceration and raise concerns about the likely effects of making our justice system even harsher.
A few survivors' voices occasionally rise to the surface. But the people who have the most power to create or change laws and policies in the wake of violence bear little resemblance to the people who are most harmed by it. Meanwhile, the cycle continues. Afterward is an effort to broaden the discourse and bring unheard voices into the conversation where they belong.