Bill to reform parole, policing and the death penalty filed ahead of the legislative session

Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 6:31 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - More than 100 bills were read by the House Judiciary Committee during the 2022 legislative session. Committee chair Representative Jim Hill, R-St. Clair County expects a similar amount this year.

“What are they gonna be? You know, I never know till I get them,” said Hill.

Representative Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has four of the seven bills that are currently prefilled for the house judiciary committee.

“Every bill you see from me that deals with the criminal justice system is me looking at problems that I think we’ve all identified and trying to help find a solution for,” said England.

HB 13 allows law enforcement to issue a citation instead of an arrest for certain criminal offenses.

“They can easily take the small amount of marijuana, issue a citation, tell them when to come to court, and move on to something else,” said England.

HB 14 requires a unanimous vote from jurors to impose the death penalty.

According to Richard Deiter with the Death Penalty Information Center, Alabama is the only state that doesn’t require a unanimous jury vote to sentence someone to death.

“There’s a lot of costs to it. There’s the families that go through this. There’s the uncertainty, there’s the money spent on appeals and money spent on all the steps of the death and the long trials, etc.,” said Dieter. “And you could put that money towards things that might actually reduce crime.”

“If we’re going to do it, I want to make sure that it’s reserved for the worst of the worst, and it is as hard as you would believe it would be for the state to take someone’s life,” said England.

Less than 10% of inmates in Alabama are granted parole. HB 16 creates state oversight England says to understand the Alabama board of pardons and paroles decision.

“Require the board to give someone a reason as to why so we can understand the decision-making process,” he said.

And HB 19 broadens the definition of an intellectually disabled person in court.

“Meaning that we’re not putting people to death that we know, lack the mental capacity to create the mind state necessary to be guilty of the offense,” said England.

The state’s republican super majority means it could be difficult for England’s bill – but not impossible due to a federal mandate for reform from the U.S. DOJ.

Lawmakers return to the state house for the regular legislative session on March 7th.

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