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Senate committee OKs second chance bill

The legislation was given a favorable of 8-2 and will move to the full Senate.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday gave a favorable report to a bill that would give a “second chance” or reduced sentence to incarcerated individuals serving life without parole under specific criteria.

HB229 sponsor Rep. Chris England said the bill would only apply to individuals incarcerated for non-violent offenses and have served over 23 years with a good record. 

“House Bill 229 has been commonly referred to as the Second Chance bill,” England said, “And what it seeks to do generally is identify a population within our prison system that is carefully crafted and select a group of people that are serving life-without parole. But their triggering events do not include any offense where anybody who was physically harmed, sexual offense, or murder, and also, according to the bill, many people that we’ve worked with to get here, anybody that would become eligible for review for resentencing under this bill would have to serve at least 23 years in prison.”

The bill more specifically will target individuals who are getting older and are contributing to overcrowding and extra cost in the prison system. 

The legislation also includes several important provisions including:

  • An individual received a final sentence at the trial court prior to May 26, 2000.
  • The judge shall give considerable weight to any objection made by the victim.
  • The clerk of the court shall notify the law enforcement agency that investigated the crime for which he or she was convicted.
  • Whether the individual used a firearm in furtherance of the offense. If so, the judge shall give considerable weight to this fact.
  • A court may not entertain a motion made pursuant to this section if a previous motion for a reduction of sentence under this section was denied.
  • The law will have a sunset effect where it is repealed five years after the effective date of the act.

The legislation was given a favorable of 8-2 and will move to the full Senate.

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

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