Suspected Rapist Could Have Been Stopped

Police say the violent rape of a 76-year old Valley woman could have been avoided if Alabama had truth in sentencing.

The accused rapist, Tony Rudd, should have been behind bars for another crime. Instead, Police say on Saturday he attacked an elderly Valley couple on this nature walk, tied them to a tree and raped the woman. Her husband watched, helpless to stop it. But the state could have,if Alabama had truth in sentencing.

Here's how:

Back in 1994, Rudd robbed this Salem Post Office and attacked the woman postmaster. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones remembers the assault on the female victim, as quite violent.

"Bottom line, Tony Rudd at that point in time was a dangerous individual," said Jones.

Rudd served 55-months in federal prison. He also received a 15-year state sentence, meaning he should have been locked up until 2010. But that sentence was reduced to time served.

"Especially for the sake of the victims we would like to see when an individual sentenced to a certain number of years, they serve that number of years. But that didn't happen in this case and unfortunatley doesn't happen in many others," explained Jones.

Truth in sentencing is not an option in Alabama, because of severe overcrowding problems. Until lawmakers fix the system, chances are more "Tony Rudd's" will be let out early.

"I would hesitate to say that justice didn't work, I'd say perhaps it could have worked a little bit better," said Jones.

Prison overcrowding is not a new issue. Lawmakers and commissions are working on solutions, like bussing inmates to other states. That at least keeps them behind bars. However, they also created another parole board, so more inmates can be released faster.