Parole denials skyrocket in Alabama

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - More than four years ago, Alabama prisons were overcrowded to the point of being unconstitutional, according to federal court judges. Now, new data shows fewer paroles may be compounding that problem.

In just four years, parole denials in Alabama nearly doubled.

That’s according to data from the Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles compiled by the ACLU. That data shows the parole board denied 46% of applications in 2017. In 2021, 84% of parole applications were denied.

“People in prison rely on parole for hope they look at the parole date and think ok if I make it to my parole date I’m going to take classes and programs and do positive things because I have hope that that matters,” said Carla Crowder the Executive Director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

Crowder says the state parole board sets the guidelines that incarcerated people have to follow to get parole. Those guidelines include taking classes, not getting into fights, and generally following the rules.

She also says many incarcerated people are meeting these requirements, but they are still being denied. “They have a great disciplinary record and they go to the parole board and for reasons that are completely inexplicable they are denied,” said Crowder.

An ACLU study reports the Board followed its own guidelines in just one-third of its cases so far this year.

Representative Chris England is sponsoring HB 57, it would create a body monitoring the Parole Board, the Criminal Justice Policy Development Council. They would require the board to use parole release guidelines. It’s been pending the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives since Feb. 9.

WAFF reached out to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles for a statement; they have not responded at this time.

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