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House approves bill to allow review of elder habitual felony offenders sentences

Many men have been serving life without parole for crimes committed in their youth that never physically harmed anybody.

80-year-old Robert Cheeks shares his story with the House Judiciary Committee as they consider a bill on providing second chances to certain incarcerated individuals. Jacob Holems/APR
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Under Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act, many men have been serving life without parole for crimes committed in their youth that never physically harmed anybody.

The Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday voted 64-37 to allow one-time review of those sentences for certain individuals sentenced prior to May 26, 2000, for crimes in which no person was physically injured.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, along with Alabama Appleseed brought five men formerly serving life without parole before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this session to make the case to give some incarcerated individuals a second chance at life.

The habitual felony offender law has changed numerous times since 2000, and some of these men may not have been sentenced to life without parole under current law. The bill would allow a judge to review the sentence and the behavior of the incarcerated men in prison to determine whether to revise their sentences.

England estimates about 300 men would immediately be eligible for such a review.

“My hope is that we find a bunch of individuals who are more than their worst moment,” England said.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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