The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Vera Institute of Justice will work with Alabama officials to reform sentencing practices, reports the Birmingham News. Before the state adopted new sentencing guidelines in October, its prison population was forecast to grow by 2,400 during the next five years, which would cost the state an extra $150 million. The new guidelines, combined with recommendations for reform from Pew, would help soften that blow, said Adam Gelb, director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project. “This is a brand new initiative for Pew,” and it will be launched in Alabama and seven other states, he said. One of the other states is Kansas; the remaining ones weren’t immediately identified.
Gov. Bob Riley said Pew picked Alabama in part because of the reform measures it already has under way. Pew will study the state’s prison population, identify trends and provide nonpartisan research, Gelb said. Then Pew and Vera Institute analysts will help the Alabama Department of Corrections and the state Sentencing Commission identify policy options. Among Pew’s goals is to help the state better identify prisoners who should be incarcerated, and those who are suited for community corrections facilities, Gelb said.