Alabama Prison Reform Bill Could Result in Some Big Changes

March 20, 2015

A bill currently making its way through the Alabama legislature could end up having big impacts on the state’s prison system, as well as how certain felonies are classified, in the future.

This Alabama prison reform bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this past week. If all goes as planned, this bill could end up facing a full Senate vote before April.

Background on the Alabama Prison Reform Bill

An Alabama prison reform bill currently making its way through the state legislature could reclassify some crimes and help resolve prison overcrowding in the state. Here’s how. Contact us for the best criminal defense.

An Alabama prison reform bill currently making its way through the state legislature could reclassify some crimes and help resolve prison overcrowding in the state. Here’s how. Contact us for the best criminal defense.

The proposed bill has been triggered, at least in part, by the current state of the Alabama prison system and efforts to deal with severe overcrowding. In fact, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections, Alabama prisons are currently housing about double the number of inmates they were actually designed to hold.

While prison overcrowding can lead to federal interventions, it can also spark serious safety concerns, including (but not limited to):

  • Disproportionate ratios of guards to inmates
  • Increased risks of violence, rioting, etc.
  • Disease transmission, sanitation issues, etc.

Details of the Alabama Prison Reform Bill

In an effort to deal with overcrowding in Alabama’s prisons, here are just some of the things that the new Alabama prison reform bill is proposing (as it is currently written):

  • Creating a new Class D felony category for some of the least serious, nonviolent offenses (like some drug crimes)
  • Creating presumptive sentencing guidelines for the Class D felony category
  • Adding new limits on maximum prison sentences for Class C felony offenses
  • Hiring more than 120 new parole and probation officers/support staff
  • Adding about 1,700 new beds to Alabama’s prisons.

Although these changes (and the others that would be implemented with the passage of this bill) are not expected to resolve the overcrowding issue on their own, supporters of this Alabama prison reform bill have pointed out that making this bill a law could:

  • Reduce the rate of overcrowding by as much as 24 percent within five years
  • Save Alabama more than $42 million annually.

As more news about the progress of this Alabama prison reform bill becomes available, we’ll report the latest updates to you here in our blog.

Montgomery and Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joe M. Reed & Associates LLC

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