Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and two key Republican lawmakers warn that the state legislature’s failure to pass a sentencing reform package could lead to a federal court takeover of the state’s overcrowded prison system, reports the Huntsville Times. The U.S. Supreme Court in May ordered 30,000 inmates freed from a California prison system that isn’t nearly as overcrowded as Alabama’s. Alabama has about 25,300 inmates in facilities designed to hold 13,400.
California had reached an overcrowding rate of only 137 percent of its prison capacity before the high court acted. Alabama’s prison facilities are at 190 percent of capacity. Cobb said passage of the sentencing package would have reduced Alabama’s overcrowding to about 170 percent.