Today, the Campaign for Smart Justice with ACLU of Alabama released a report with dire predictions about Alabama’s prison crisis. Based on an analysis of current parole practices using five years of data from the Alabama Department of Corrections, the report projects Alabama’s prison population will skyrocket this year alone by over 3,700 people due to a dramatic drop in paroles.
In the last two months of 2019, Alabama’s parole board considered 200 people for release, and granted parole to only 17 of them. Because Alabama’s prisons are already unconstitutionally overcrowded, the effective cessation of parole will drive the population to the highest numbers in five years, thus increasing violence, chaos, and despair.
“Alabama’s Parole Board and the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles have tremendous power over our prison population,” said Randall Marshall, Executive Director of ACLU of Alabama. “Their decisions to docket fewer eligible people for hearings and to grant fewer paroles are exacerbating Alabama’s prison crisis systemwide. For individuals who are trying to survive inside Alabama’s overcrowded and violent prisons, the board’s actions can truly be a matter of life or death. State agencies should be working together to solve this disaster, but instead, new leadership at the Bureau and Board have doubled down, justifying their actions with the same old tough-on-crime ideology and fear-driven rhetoric that has pushed Alabama’s addiction to incarceration for decades.”