Mark McDaniel discusses variety of personal expertise, from NASA to prison reform

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Huntsville, Ala. (WHNT)-  Huntsville Attorney Mark McDaniel is one of the better known attorneys in the state of Alabama.  He was on the NASA advisory council under two Presidents.  He is an advisor for the Madison County Commission and this week he stopped in to WHNT News 19 to give us his opinion on the Space Launch System or SLS and the upcoming reform to the prison systems.

The Space Launch System has recently replaced the Constellation Program founded in the Bush Administration, which McDaniel was a part of.  When asked how the new SLS is going, Mark McDaniel had this to say, “I think it’s going good right now.  I think to keep NASA strong and vibrant agency is one of the most important issues facing our nation.  Not only our local community here, but our entire nation.  There is no other agency in government I believe that can inspire our youth to pursue careers in math and science like NASA can do.  We have the greatest minds in the entire world right here at Marshall Space Flight Center.”

As we here in Alabama well know, money for funding is tight.  Is there any chance of a budget expansion for NASA in the future so that it is not so difficult to accomplish things that need to be accomplished?  McDaniel says that, “What people need to know is that there are ten NASA centers throughout the United States.  The Senators and Representatives from those states have a concern for NASA obviously.  But Senators from states that don’t have a NASA center say ‘We want to build bridges, put money into infrastructure and fund education. We don’t really know why should we fund space exploration.’ So I have Senators and Congressmen from states that don’t have NASA call me and say why?  I believe that a strong NASA is the answer to the future of our nation when it comes to math and science.  Our nation has fallen so far behind in math and science education and people who want to pursue those careers. NASA can do a lot to bring that back to the forefront.  We can inspire our youth with these programs.   NASA is the only agency in the government that is for dreamers.  It needs a vision that the entire nation can get behind like the Apollo Program where 5.7% of the nations budget was behind that program.  If we have that vison, if we have that dream then the nation will get behind it and the funding will go up. If you don’t want to have an agency of dreamers that can do the impossible things, then just shut it down and build prisons.”

Prison reform in Alabama is a big issue currently.  The prison system is over capacity and the State is trying to avoid a Federal take over of the system.  Mark McDaniel has been helping Madison County streamline the court system and lower the jail population for the last few years and has represented defendants that are in prison.  When asked what can the system do?, Mark McDaniel responded that, “We are very fortunate to have one of the best judiciary systems in the nation, right here in Madison County and they have all worked together to streamline this important issue.  To get people out of jail other ways, pre-trial diversion programs, electronic monitoring, ways to get people out of jail where the taxpayer isn’t having to pay all of that.  Also if a person gets sick or has a problem in there, the taxpayer has to pay for that.  That’s a healthcare issue.  If you can get people out of jail, on diversion programs or monitoring or what ever programs that you don’t have to keep them locked up, that’s better for everybody.”

Watch the four part interview here:

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