Alabama ACLU report says state laws contributing to more incarcerations

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 3:48 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lawmakers tasked with addressing Alabama’s prison crisis are adding to the problem. That’s according to the Alabama American Civil Liberties Union. The group published its first “Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline” report that criticizes state legislation that led to more incarcerations.

“These pipeline bills may seem innocuous, but these are only adding and contributing to what’s been an escalating crisis for years in Alabama’s prisons,” said Dillon Nettles, an ACLU of Alabama policy analyst.

A pipeline bill, according to the study, is a piece of legislation that “creates new criminal penalties and/or enhances current penalties.” The ACLU reports that during the last regular legislative session, 52 pipeline bills were signed into law.

“We should be working towards solutions that get at the root causes of crime and public safety issues,” Nettles said. “That starts with investments in education. That starts with fortifying our health care infrastructure. That starts with making meaningful investments in communities.”

The Department of Justice has sued the Alabama Department of Corrections, claiming the state has failed or refused to correct dangerous conditions within prisons.

Gov. Kay Ivey says lawmakers are at work behind the scenes to solve the problem.

“We’re still working with the legislature and I’m proud to say we’re making progress. We don’t have a final draft of legislation but they’re working hard and we’re working with them,” said Ivey. “We’re all on the same page and we’re going to fix this problem.”

There are still questions from lawmakers on when and if Ivey will call a special session on prisons this fall.

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