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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/alabama-prosecutor-valeska-criminal-justice-reform.html?

Mr. Valeska has proved exceedingly adept at using diversion, generating more than $1 million for his office in the last five years. The money has helped him consolidate his singular power over the justice system in Houston and Henry Counties, where he has presided as the chief prosecutor for three decades.

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Dothan, the seat of Houston County and, with 70,000 residents, the regional hub, can feel like it is caught in a Southern time warp, immune to change and defined by racial division. Dothan, where one in three residents is black, has never had a black mayor, police chief, circuit judge or school superintendent. Meetings of the city commission are held in a room adorned with 28 portraits of city leaders, all of them white men. An old photograph shows police officers, including the current chief, posing beside a Confederate flag…

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It is not uncommon for residents to suffer severe penalties for crimes that would be considered minor elsewhere. Lee Brooker, a 77-year-old disabled veteran, was caught growing marijuana in his backyard in 2011. By introducing prior convictions from 1991, Mr. Valeska sought, and won, life without parole for Mr. Brooker…

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