The Alabama Legislature Thursday gave nearly unanimous final approval to a sweeping prison reform bill aimed at addressing the state’s prison overcrowding crisis, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. The bill passed the House on a 100-5 vote Thursday night. The Senate, which approved the bill in March, concurred in the changes a few minutes later by a vote of 27-0. Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to sign the bill into law.
Bentley called passage of the bill “a historic day for Alabama as we take a significant step forward to address reform of Alabama’s criminal justice system.” Others cautioned that improvements will take time. The state houses nearly 30,000 inmates, roughly double its prison capacity. Violence is rampant in the facilities, and the federal government is investigating the state’s prison for women. The reform legislation includes new investments in parole, probation and supervision and some changes in criminal law to limit prison time for minor offenses.