New AL prison reform laws make it harder to put some behind bars

New AL prison reform laws make it harder to put some behind bars

MARSHALL COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - New laws may make it more difficult to put people behind bars for drug and property crimes.

Despite an overcrowded prison system, some prosecutors feel it could be sending the wrong message.

The new laws, which went into effect on Sunday, create a new class of felonies.

They reduce the maximum jail sentence in half, and first-time drug offenders may not have the fear that they'll be spending any time behind bars.

In an effort to reduce prison overcrowding, the new prison reform bill is now in effect.

This bill has created a new Class-D felony with a range of prison time from one to five years.

Before now, a Class-C felony was the lowest felony which could send a person to prison for up to 10 years.

Prosecutors say many property crimes have been converted to Class-D felonies.

Drug possession crimes, including methamphetamine, cocaine, and other dangerous drugs, are now Class-D felonies.

Prosecutors say they're already dealing with sentencing guidelines which make it difficult to give tougher sentences.

"It doesn't have as big an impact on drug cases as it does some of the other areas, however, it does make it harder for us to send somebody to prison on a Class-D, and it also has some provisions that split sentences are preferred over just straight sentences on Class-Ds," said Marshall County Assistant
District Attorney Chris Able.

Able says part of the bill is also to add additional probation officers to watch over those people once they are released from prison.

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