An Alabama senate committee has approved a package of sentencing bills aimed at reducing Alabama’s swollen prison population, says the Huntsville Times. There was little opposition to the recommendations from the Alabama Public Safety and Sentencing Coalition, made of up judges, legislators, lawyers and law enforcement officers. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Cam Ward said, “The governor’s office has been pretty clear and public about it [ ] either through this package or [ ] executive decision — there will be early release of inmates from our correctional system to deal with the budget issues. We are in a very serious situation now.”
Alabama prisons hold more than 25,000 inmates, but they were designed for 13,403. Bills sent to the full Senate would create a new felony classification for low-level property and drug offenses, set up a new schedule for drug crimes, including revising the quantity thresholds for marijuana criminal violations to distinguish between low-level drug users and career criminals, make inmates eligible for supervised parole 180 days before the end of their sentences, create a tailor-made probation program for moderate to high-risk offenders, and give judges more flexibility in dealing with probationers who commit technical violations.