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Early release of hundreds of incarcerated people delayed

The Alabama Department of Corrections failed to notify the victims.

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Over 400 incarcerated individuals are scheduled for supervised early release beginning Tuesday as a 2021 amendment to a previous law related to early release goes into effect, but that process has been delayed until victims of crimes committed by each individual are notified, according to court documents obtained by APR.

During the first special legislative session of 2021, the chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, filed legislation amending a 2015 sentencing law requiring incarcerated individuals to be released under supervision up to 12 months prior to the end of their sentence if they had been sent to prison after 2015.

That amendment, which passed during that special session with wide bipartisan support, changed the earlier law to apply to individuals jailed before 2015, and required that victims of crimes receive a notice from the state that individuals associated with those crimes are about to be released.

The amendment does not specify how that notice would be communicated. 

Tuesday was when the 2021 amendment was scheduled to go into effect, but the Alabama Department of Corrections has yet to notify all victims as required under the amended law, according to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Steve Marshall filed suit on Monday against the Alabama Department of Corrections and Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, demanding a 10-day halt to the release of incarcerated individuals.

In a copy of the complaint, Marshall’s office said it received an updated list last Friday of “412 inmates set to be released on Jan. 31,” while at the same time receiving word from the ADOC that the department had contacted less than 20 victims of crimes committed by the soon-to-be-released individuals, as it was required under the law to do.

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“This list indicates that roughly 60 percent of the offenders set to be released on Jan. 31 committed violent offenses against persons—at least 50 to-be-released inmates are serving time for committing murder or manslaughter,” the complaint reads. “At the same time, the Attorney General’s Office received notice that the Department of Corrections had contact information for less than 20 victims—meaning, that less than 20 victims total have been contacted about their offenders’ impending release from prison.”

That demand was denied by a Montgomery Circuit Judge, and a compromise was reached among each party to release incarcerated individuals as each victim is notified, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has yet to respond to a request for comment, and it is unclear how many incarcerated individuals will be released today.

Incarcerated individuals serving split sentences, convictions for child sex crimes, and life sentences with or without parole are not eligible for mandatory early release.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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