ACLU of Alabama publishes new statehouse-to-prison pipeline

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some state lawmakers are making the state’s poor prison system worse, that’s according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. The organization released its second ever Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline report that shows legislation that could contribute to the prison population.

“If the bill somehow creates a new or enhanced criminal penalty, adds additional funding, or expands the scale scope, and power of law enforcement,” said ACLU’s Dillon Nettles.

Nettles found that 148 bills from the 2022 legislative session do exactly that. Four of them are highlighted in their recent statehouse-to-prison pipeline report.

“Alabama is actually over-invests in incarceration and not enough from root causes,” said Nettles.

Included in the report is The Nick Risner Act, which changes Alabama’s good time law by increasing the reasons inmates cannot be released early, and the anti-protest bill, that allows for police to hold a protestor for 24 hours if they cause damage or violate a curfew.

The two other bills listed have a less obvious pipeline.

“SB 184, which criminalizes providing gender-affirming care to trans youth,” said Nettles.

Doctors could be punished for up to a decade for providing that care and the other bill prohibits private funding to help run elections. Representative Wes Allen, R-Troy, sponsored both.

“We’ve got to put some penalties to it to make sure we that we can enforce it to make sure we protect kids,” said Allen. “There’s not any truth to the fact that’s coming damping, voter registration.”

And when asked about the study Governor Kay Ivey says the focus is on public safety.

“Whatever that means to keep our people and officers safe, that’s the name of the game for us,” said Ivey.

“We call on the governor to join us and, push for public safety measures, which include investing in our early childhood education,” said Nettles.

Lawmakers will return to the statehouse for the legislative session next March.

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