Alabama’s finance director says the state prison population must be cut by 3,000 to make the governor’s proposed budget work, reports, the Birmingham News. Finance Director David Perry told a joint meeting of the House and Senate judiciary committees that Gov. Robert Bentley would prefer the prison population was reduced by changing sentencing laws, rather than releasing inmates.
Legislators are working on a package of bills proposed by the Alabama Public Safety and Sentencing Coalition aimed at reducing the state prison population. Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb said Alabama ranks near the top of the nation in the percentage of people it puts behind bars, but that has not reduced the state’s crime rate. The bills call for new sentencing approaches aimed at putting fewer nonviolent offenders in prison and reducing the number of ex-convicts who return to prison, Cobb said. Prison resources could be better focused on violent offenders and career criminals, she said.