Alabama is already leading the nation with the highest rates of incarcerated inmates, especially for non-violent crimes. Despite significant declines in the sentences being handed down in Alabama, state prisons continue to be overcrowded. According to recent reports, there are several reasons. For one, the state suffers from delays in the parole and probation processes as well as other problems related to policies and laws that result in high numbers of inmates. Not only is this a burden to taxpayers, but it also means that many convicted offenders have been over-penalized for their offenses.
According to research, led by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and conducted by attorneys, judges, law enforcement officials, and advocacy groups, Alabama still has a problem with prison overcrowding. The Prison Task Form was created to spearhead reform to reduce overall spending, reduce incarceration rates, and improve public safety throughout the state. A research manager presented the first findings, showing a decline in arrests from 10,000 in 2009 to 7,000 in 2013. There has also been a near 25% drop in prison sentences since 2013. Despite these shifts, the prison population has remained the same.
Advocates suggest that part of the problem is that inmates have not been given credit for “good time,” which can help them earn credit towards a reduced sentence. This should be available to any inmates with sentences over 15 years, making up nearly 80% of the prison population. Research also indicates that nearly half the inmates who are eligible for parole have been waiting over a year. Those who have been convicted of drug or property crimes are eligible for parole but aren’t given the opportunity. Research shows that the parole rate has actually declined and the duration of time it takes to get released has actually been extended. This means fewer parole releases and longer prison sentences for inmates.
Researchers believe that the failure to parole inmates is due to a lack of pressure in the system. Another problem is that inmates are not given the help and resources they need to help with reintegration. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are committed to providing strategic counsel and defense from the outset. We understand the complications with the Alabama justice system and can help individuals charged with violent crimes, property crimes, drug related crimes, and other offenses protect their rights. Once convicted in Alabama, it can be difficult to get your sentenced reduced and reintegrate with a criminal record.
For many individuals who have been charged with a crime, getting assistance for addiction or other mental health conditions is necessary. The survey found that many inmates lacked resources and services to help with these conditions. The advocacy groups pointed to a need for increased community supervision and resources to help inmates reintegrate and prevent future arrests. The group also advocated for a review of the pardons and parole board to give more inmates the opportunity for release. Legislators are hoping for an overhaul and reform, including several bills that will be prepared for the March session.