The U.S. has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the world and many of those behind bars have been locked up for non-violent offenses. Alabama has some of the highest rates of imprisonment and lifetime sentences for non-violent offenders; however, recent report also indicates that despite a reduction in criminal activity, more Alabama defendants are being sent to prison.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Birmingham are committed to protecting the rights of defendants and to ensure just treatment. We understand that for many defendants, the criminal justice system can be stacked against them. New reports that underscore the reality for Alabama defendants remind us of the importance of effective and experienced criminal defense.
Despite a reduction in criminal activity and convictions, more Alabama residents are being sent to prison, according to anew survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The organization has compared prison rates measured by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and compared them to the FBI’s statewide crime rates. Based on FBI data, the rate of crime in Alabama and nationwide has dropped. While in other states, fewer people are going to prison, Alabama has shown an increase in the number of prisoners relative to the size of population.
According to the analysis, 15 states, including Alabama, showed an increase in imprisonment rates between 2007 and 2012. Based on crime rates and population, there were only 3 states that had a larger increase of imprisonment than Alabama. Since 2007, imprisonment rates are up 5% since 2007, resulting in 650 incarcerations per 100,000 residents. These rates are up despite an 11 percent decrease in the rates of criminal prosecutions. California had a similar reduction in criminal activities; however the reduction in crime also resulted in a 26% decrease in the rate of imprisonment.
In 2012, only Louisiana had a higher rate of imprisonment than Alabama. Alabama has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the U.S.; however, this does not mean that Alabama must continue to imprison at the same rate or higher. It would only make sense that with the reduction in criminal activity, the rates of imprisonment should also be in decline. Alabama could potentially look to other kinds of reform that have taken place in other states to reduce the number of prisoners.
The recent report highlights the reality that imprisonment and lifetime sentences are a reality for Alabama defendants, even when charged with non-violent crimes. When arrested for drug possession, distribution, trafficking, or other non-violent crimes, remember that you rights are at stake. You could end up facing an unexpected and long prison sentence, even for what seems like a minor crime. Our attorneys will take the time to review the facts of your case and explore all of your defense options. We will seek to suppress any evidence that was illegally obtained against you.