Dozens lobby at statehouse for criminal justice reform

Former inmates among those fighting for criminal justice reform

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - More than 100 people came to the statehouse to lobby state lawmakers for criminal justice reform Tuesday.

Alabamians for Fair Justice is a coalition that advocates for reforms within the state’s prison system. The U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue the state in April 2019 saying the state’s men’s prisons violate the eighth amendment.

The department is giving state lawmakers time to make adequate changes to address the violence and understaffing issues.

“It is important for Alabama to see the people behind the prison walls,” said LaTonya Tate, Alabama Justice Initiative executive director and founder, in a press release. “These are real fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands behind every excessive prison sentence. Lawmakers need to understand that incarcerated Alabamians, their families, and their supporters are constituents too. Their voices matter.”

Former inmates, students and people from the general public traveled to the statehouse. The coalition wants lawmakers to repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act, also known as the “three strikes” law.

To list a few other priorities, the group wants to reduce sentences for marijuana possession, make diversion and alternative court programs more accessible, and reform the state’s parole system.

State lawmakers are expected to submit several pieces of prison reform legislation this month.

The Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy had met for several months. The group released policy recommendations last month.

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