North Creek residents: Phillips should continue sentence

Published 12:03 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

Before Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price issued his ruling yesterday, residents in the North Creek community were running a poll at the North Creek General Store.

And they were of one mind in their response to Sherrie Phillips’ request to get out of jail 18 months before her 3-year prison term is up: “Absolutely not.”

Phillips was convicted in October 2008 of stealing $1.8 million and using her official position for unlawful personal gain. Phillips’ attorney, David Harrison of Geneva, said last week there were two reasons his client should be released early: one, because she’s “experienced prison life,” and two, because it would save the state some $40,000.

Wednesday, community members shared their opinions about those comments.

“My biggest thing is what makes her different than anyone else serving time in our criminal justice system?” asked Deb Gibbs, North Creek store owner.

“(Harrison) says she’s been rehabilitated,” she said. “Last time I checked, Alabama has no treatment program for thieves.

“As soon as she was sentenced, within 30 days, she’s in a work camp. Then, the next thing we know, she’s out on furlough and singing in the church choir. Then, she’s out driving prisoners around in the prison van.

“When did she have time to get rehabilitated?” she said.

“And how about all those other non-violent offenders who are serving time?” Gibbs said. “Why don’t we release them? Her attorney said it’d save $40,000 if she was let out early.

“Well, if we let all those other people out, we wouldn’t have to worry about that 15 percent cut (in the state general fund budget) that’s happening everywhere else.”

Throughout the general discussion, customers trickled in and out the front door – all with the same opinion.

Sallie Thompson, who lives less than a mile from the store, agreed with Gibbs and the others.

Marion Causey of Florala just happened to stop by for a Coca-Cola and some crackers. He weighed in on the topic.

“If she did her time and did what the judge said do, let her go,” he said. “But, at the same time, give the other people (in jail) the same consideration.”

Gibbs and the group was absolute in their opinion Phillips should stay in jail.

“She did the crime, so she needs to do the time,” she said.