State senator introduces bill to pause early supervised inmate release

A new proposal would put a temporary halt to the early release of state inmates.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 7:41 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Close to 400 inmates have now been released from Alabama prisons before the end of their sentences, and more are expected as a part of the state’s supervised early release law. Supporters say the supervised release is safer than waiting until the end of an inmate’s sentence.

State Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Baldwin County, filed a bill to stop this law until 2030. Elliott says his bill will give the state a chance to track inmates released early to pardons and parole supervision.

“To see if simply putting an ankle monitor on convicted criminals who had reached or are close to reaching their end of sentence, somehow made them act better,” said Elliott.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says “during this initial transfer period (January 31, 2023 – February 10, 2023), ADOC has transferred 386 inmates from its custody due to the retroactive law.” They add that “going forward, these transfers will occur twice a month.”

Elliott wants to push back the releases until 2030.

“While we have the opportunity to study it, to study this experiment,” he said.

When built, he hopes the state’s new megaprisons will have better resources to prevent recidivism.

“They’re modern, they have more space for these types of programs,” said Elliott.

But Alabama’s current prisons are overpopulated. Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa County, says a delay will make it worse.

“If you’re delayed to 2030, the only thing I believe that you’re doing is shifting our responsibility to manage our criminal justice system to a federal court, who will eventually force that to happen anyway if we don’t do something,” said England.

He says recidivism will happen with unsupervised releases.

“You can have some supervision, and you can have the ability to re-incarcerate if necessary versus someone who serves their entire sentence, gets out with no supervision,” said England

WSFA 12 News reached out to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles about this process. They said, “We’re not currently doing interviews on the topic of mandatory supervision. Between current statements from ADOC and ABPP, as well as previous discussions, we believe the information already presented paints a complete picture.”

“We need to come up with different ways to relieve the pressure on our criminal justice system, and doing it in a responsible way. And one of those ways, one of those things, is through early release,” said England.

Released inmates are fitted with ankle monitors and are on mandatory supervision.

Lawmakers will return for the 2023 regular legislative session on March 7. Elliott hopes his bill is debated early on.

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