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Prison reform on special session agenda, but some advocates still disappointed

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State lawmakers return to Montgomery on Monday. While Gov. Kay Ivey has laid out her plan for the special session, some are upset with the lack of prison reform on the agenda. Dillion Nettles is the director of policy and advocacy for the Alabama ACLU and called the plan for the session disappointing.

“We feel that the governor’s call yesterday [Thursday] really evades the responsibilities that leadership has right now to address this crisis with real solutions,” Nettles said.

The criminal justice reform items listed on the governor’s official call would affect sentencing standards for some nonviolent crimes prior to 2013. Nettles calls this limited and modest.

“In order to really address meaningfully, the conditions in our facilities, the rampant violence, the frequent deaths, the harsh and unfair practices that currently plague our system, they must consider comprehensive, robust reforms to overhaul which is a broken system of criminal justice,” Nettles said.

In an OpEd co-authored by Ivey, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, President Pro-Tempore Greg Reed, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, they call people who say the state can’t build its way of it this problem “backward thinkers.”

The editorial goes on to say “It’s like building a house from the roof-down – doomed to fail unless a strong foundation is put in place first. That’s what this legislation does – it builds a strong foundation on which we can implement sound policy.”

In the drafted bill there are plans to use the Perry County Correctional Facility as a hub for rehabilitation.

Legislators will be limited to discussing and voting only on the matters outlined in the governor’s proclamation unless each chamber reaches a two-thirds vote to consider other matters.

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