Victim advocacy group displeased with state inmate release notifications

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 3:30 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 8:09 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The nonprofit group Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, has expressed concerns about the ongoing release of Alabama inmates at state prisons.

About 80 state inmates were released under electronic supervision Tuesday in accordance with a retroactive law, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. The state initially planned at first to release around 400 eligible inmates, but ADOC did not meet the legal obligation to notify all of the victims first.

As of Thursday, ADOC reports that a total of 134 inmates have been released. In Thursday’s update, ADOC said no inmates will be released without victim notification.

Janette Grantham, executive director of VOCAL, said they have had an influx of calls from victims and their families who are concerned. She said she wishes ADOC had done a better job before the mandatory supervision law went into effect. Grantham said it’s victims are being notified too late in some cases.

Grantham said it is upsetting that ADOC did not finish notifying victims before the prisoners were mandated for release. She described it as “the very system that’s supposed to protect us victimizes them again.”

”It’s mostly important for the victim because their life has been changed already,” she said, “It doesn’t take much when you’re already traumatized.”

Grantham said they have been slammed with calls from victims and their families who have more questions than answers.

“All of them wanting to know if they can do something about it,” she said.

Grantham says she is also seeing in some cases where victims are notified too late to take any steps to protect themselves.

“It’s just sad. We’ve had talked to a victim earlier, and she was contacted by DOC, and they told her that he had gotten out I think at 8:30 this morning or something. Well, he was already out. But when something like that, they don’t have time to do things to be prepared. I mean, some people might want to get a security or cameras or even change their locks. Some victims are afraid that they might even plan to move. But when they’re already out, you don’t have those options,” Grantham said.

In the meantime, Grantham says VOCAL will continue to support victims as they always have.

“And that is all I ask for is to give the victims a little piece of the justice that they thought they had.”

ADOC says no inmate has been or will be released without victim notification. They say as victim notifications are made, those inmates are added to the list to be released.

ADOC contacts victims only if that person registers for a notification of a release. Grantham is encouraging every victim and their family to call ADOC or to fill out a victim notification request online to ensure they will be contacted.

The released inmates will be equipped with electronic monitors that will be tracked by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

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