Hundreds of inmates freed as part of state’s early release law

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 9:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Corrections released between 170 to 200 inmates on Friday as a part of the retroactive early release law.

The release was for inmates with less than a year left on their sentence, and who will be monitored with a GPS anklet until their sentence is complete.

Shawn Mealer was waiting for his sister to pick him up from the Greyhound bus station on Friday after being released just six hours earlier. He said that getting out was big surprise.

“This just happened, I mean it just recently came upon me,” Mealer said. “My end of sentence day is March 30, and they just came in there a couple of days ago and said ‘hey you’re going to do your bloodwork and get released.”

All 408 inmates who have or will be released will be tracked electronically.

“I have the ankle monitor on, I have to go and report to my probation and parole officer between now and the 30th,” Mealer said. “I have to report for the next two months, but that ain’t no big deal. I plan on getting out, getting me a job, working five-to-seven days a week, and making me some money.”

Still, there has been a large amount of backlash regarding the release.

State Representative Juandalynn Givan stressed this is an effort to provide restorative justice and that she doesn’t understand why so many have come out against the release.

“I am very confused myself, I am perplexed,” Givan said.

Representative Givan stresses that the new release laws are designed to create prison reform, and that the prisoners have served their time.

“Their sentences have basically ended, whether it is three weeks from now, a month from now, four months, or six months or even within a year, these folks will be free regardless,” she said.

Representative Givan also believes that if the state didn’t do something to tackle the prison issues, the federal government would have made them do more to address prisons in the state of Alabama.

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