Alabama’s Attorney General is suing to prevent early release of inmates scheduled for Tuesday

Ivana Hrynkiv

Alabama’s Attorney General on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging Tuesday’s early release of nearly 400 inmates, arguing that victims’ families were not properly notified of their release.

The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Steve Marshall against Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Cam Ward and Alabama Justice Department Commissioner John Hamm aims to delay the early release of 369 inmates serving time at Alabama jails on Tuesday should leave .

“This complaint seeks to prevent the early release under the supervision of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles (ABPP) of inmates currently in custody with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) until (Hamm) the statutory Provides necessary notice to victims of inmates,” the complaint reads.

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“Because victims were not notified of the release of inmates, which is currently scheduled for January 31, 2023, under Alabama Act 2021-549, the state is also requesting an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order in a separate motion,” the statement reads the lawsuit.

The release – which will place the early-release inmates under the supervision of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles – comes from a bill passed by the state legislature in 2021. According to a notice received from the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles and the Alabama Department of Corrections — which determined it should not be released to the media — inmates are being released from correctional facilities across the state. Those not being transported from prison by friends or family members are taken to nearby bus stops and dropped off there.

Each released inmate will be fitted with an ankle monitor. Most of the inmates included in Tuesday’s release were due to serve their sentences and be released from prison this year, many in the next few months.

Ward said earlier Monday that his agency was complying with the law.

“The law was passed in 2021 and we will follow it as it is written. We didn’t advocate for it, but until a judge tells us otherwise, we will enforce the law as written,” Ward said.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed House Bill 2 in 2021, which provides for the mandatory early release of certain inmates. The law comes into force on January 31 and prompts publication on Tuesday.

“Depending on the length of an inmate’s sentence, he or she is eligible for between three and 12 months early release to be supervised by the Pardons Board for the remainder of the sentence and will be subject to electronic surveillance for a specified period of time by the Director of Pardons and Paroles specified time,'” the lawsuit states.

“Every violent crime leaves behind a victim or a victim’s family. For this reason, state and federal laws have long recognized the right of crime victims or their families to be notified by the appropriate governmental agency if their offender is on parole or about to be released from prison,” Marshall wrote.

According to Marshall’s lawsuit, ADOC only had contact information for fewer than 20 victims.

“Because ADOC has failed to meet its statutory duty to notify victims of the early release of their offender from custody and cannot meet that duty by January 31, 2023, ADOC cannot lawfully release more than half of them and pardon and parole court lawfully accept these inmates should be paroled.”

Neither the ADOC nor the ABPP have responded in court filings.