The Alabama Legislature voted unanimously to put “Aniah’s Law” on the ballot, and now Gov. Kay Ivey is urging voters to give the bill the same support.
The law, Amendment 1 on the upcoming general election ballot, would allow judges to deny bail, following a hearing, to anyone charged with a first-degree offense including murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, domestic violence, human trafficking, burglary, arson, robbery, sexual torture, terrorism and aggravated child abuse.
The amendment is named for Aniah Blanchard, a Southern Union Community College student who was kidnapped and murdered in 2019; her accused killer was out on bail awaiting trial for charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, and robbery at the time.
“Three years ago this week, the nation watched as Alabama learned the beginnings of an unjust tragedy that never should have taken place,” Ivey said in a statement Thursday. “While we prayed for a different outcome, Aniah Blanchard’s untimely death revealed flaws in the judicial system. It is past time we fix those issues, but because of the unwavering dedication of Aniah’s family and the unanimous support by the Alabama Legislature, Amendment One, also known as Aniah’s Law, will be on the ballot this November. I encourage every Alabamian to join me in voting yes on Aniah’s Law to ensure no family would have to go through the pain of preventable tragedy. Public safety is a top priority, and Aniah’s Law won’t just bolster public safety, but also honor and allow for Aniah to redefine Alabama’s judicial system to help save lives across the state.”
Under current Alabama law, judges have limited authority to deny bail to violent offenders unless the suspect is charged with a capital offense or poses a flight risk.
The mayors of Alabama’s 10 largest cities came together with Blanchard’s family earlier this week to similarly urge support for the bipartisan bill.
“No family should have to go through such a tragedy,” said Angela Harris, Blanchard’s mother, at the press conference. “If this could happen to Aniah, it could happen to anyone. Please keep your family, your friends and your community safe, and honor Aniah’s memory on November 8th.”