The Alabama Senate has recently passed an Alabama prison reform bill, sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, moving this bill one step closer to becoming a law. Officially known as the Justice Reinvestment Act, this bill will now be moving on to the House for review. If approved in the House, this bill would then have to be signed by Gov. Robert Bentley before becoming law and providing some long-needed reforms to the Alabama prison system.
Changes Proposed by the Alabama Prison Reform Bill
The Alabama prison reform bill has recently been passed in the Senate, which means it will now be moving on to the House for review.
According to Sen. Cam Ward, this Alabama prison reform bill is the product of more than a year’s work and collaboration between legislators, law enforcement officials, attorneys, judges and victim’s advocates. While the primary goal of this bill is to reduce Alabama’s prison population and deal with its serious overcrowding problem, the steps that will be taken to achieve this aim – if the bill is enacted into law as it currently sits – will reportedly include:
- A reduction in penalties for certain non-violent crimes, including some property and drug offenses
- A refinement of certain parole, probation and community corrections programs, which are focused on diverting convicts from prison
- The addition of new parole officers
- The addition of 1,200 to 2,000 new prison beds
The cost of enacting these reforms would reportedly be $35 million.
Alabama Prison Reform Bill: The Opposition
While this Alabama prison reform bill certainly proposes some big changes that could be effective at reducing the prison population in the state – as well as possibly even the rates of recidivism, opponents of this bill have argued that such reforms have not been proven to work.
This pushback has, however, been challenged by Sen. Cam Ward, who has pointed to other states – including Texas and North Carolina – where similar reforms have already been enacted and have made significant headway in reducing those states’ prison populations, as well as their rates of recidivism.
What do you think about this Alabama prison reform bill? Do you think it should become law? Share your thoughts and comments on this topic with us on social media.
Montgomery and Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joe Reed & Associates, LLC
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