An Alabama man convicted of raping a teenage girl will serve no prison time. On Wednesday, a judge in Athens, Alabama, ruled that the rapist will be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.
In September, a jury in Limestone County, in north central Alabama, found Austin Smith Clem, 25, guilty of raping Courtney Andrews, a teenage acquaintance and his then-neighbor, three times—twice when she was 14, and again when was she was 18.
Andrews recalled Clem’s crimes to AL.com on Thursday. When he abused her at age 14, she said, “He kept saying, ‘This is okay,’ and ‘Don’t say anything or you’re going to get me in trouble,'” she said. Clem threatened her parents lives’ if she told anyone, Andrews said. After he raped her in 2011, she had a family friend inform her parents. She couldn’t bear to, she said, because “I knew it would break their hearts.” That night, her parents reported Clem to the police.
Alabama ranks third among states in the number of inmates serving life without the possibility of parole sentences for non-violent crimes, according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union.
49 people in Alabama are currently serving life without parole for drug offenses. Plainly, prison should be reserved for the worst criminals such as this, not child rapists.