By Alabamians for Fair Justice
Articles like this and this cite data that seems to indicate Alabama prisons are on the right track. It’s true, the state decreased the prison populations through 2017, the result of a concerted, bipartisan effort that resulted in the 2015 Justice Reinvestment Act. While we are glad to see media outlets write about the prison overcrowding crisis, we want to take a moment to encourage journalists, along with every Alabamian, to look at the data after 2017 and consider the facts about Alabama’s prisons today.
The Alabama Department of Corrections’ Monthly Statistical Reports, publicly available on the ADOC website, show that since October 2018, more people have entered Alabama prisons each month than have exited, marking the first time this has happened in the last five years. April 2019 was the first month since February 2013 that the in-custody population at ADOC was greater than the previous year with almost 300 more people in-custody in 2019 than in April 2018. Furthermore, total annual admissions increased each year for the past four years. We are headed in the wrong direction.
These trends are simply unsustainable. However, the data through 2017 does show that legislative reform can make a difference. That’s why our coalition of directly impacted people and policy organizations came together to demand that the state of Alabama act swiftly and boldly. Last week, we sent them our first set of policy recommendations that would make real, meaningful steps towards reforming our broken justice system that has subjected thousands of people to cruel and inhumane treatment.
But first, lawmakers, media, and the public need to recognize the full picture of incarceration trends, including the past two years. To see the full dataset since 2017, please visit alabamafairjustice.org/data.