KKK Member Thomas E. Blanton Jr. Who Bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Up for Parole


Thomas E. Blanton Jr., the Klansman convicted in the murders of four little girls in the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, will go before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles next month for his first parole hearing.

Blanton, 86, who was convicted in 2001 in the church bombing, will go before the parole board on Aug. 3.

But it likely won’t turn out well for Blanton, said Doug Jones, the former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Blanton.

Jones, who plans to be at the hearing to oppose parole for Blanton, said Blanton is technically eligible under the law for parole. “But as a practical matter I would hope he is not realistically eligible,” he said.

Among the things a parole board has to consider is whether the inmate has shown remorse or acceptance of responsibility, Jones said.

“He has shown no remorse. He’s shown no acceptance of responsibility,” Jones said. “He has not reached out to the families or the community to show acceptance of responsibility. I think that’s an important part of parole consideration and it’s completely lacking in this case.”

Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair were killed in the dynamite blast that happened on a Sunday morning at the church.

Jones said he doesn’t expect former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair and his wife, whose daughter was among those killed in the bomb blast, to attend the hearing. But he said he expects Denise’s sisters to be present, along with relatives of the other girls.

Jones was the lead prosecutor when Blanton was tried. He was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama at the time but tried the case as a special state attorney general in 2001.

Jones said he believes when the families of four victims and the prosecutor show up to oppose parole and there’s no acceptance of responsibility on Blanton’s behalf “I think it’s a fairly easy decision for the parole board but we’ll see what happens.”

Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls said he too will be at the hearing to oppose parole for Blanton.

“The case against Tommy Blanton was prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and my office under my predecessor District Attorney David Barber,” Falls said in a statement to AL.com. “I have been in contact with Doug Jones, who was U.S. Attorney at the time, and Jeff Wallace, who served as the District Attorney’s Office representative on the prosecution team. At this time, Doug Jones has been in contact with the families and plans to speak at the hearing to oppose parole. I will also attend the hearing to represent my office in opposition to parole.”

Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was injured in the blast and whose sister Addie Mae Collins was killed, said Friday that she will be going to the parole hearing. But she said she doesn’t want to reveal what she will say before the hearing.

Officials with Victims of Crime and Leniency also plan to be at the hearing to protest Blanton’s release, according to Janette Grantham, the state director for VOCAL.

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Source: AL.com | Kent Faulk | kfaulk@al.com