At least 80 inmates released after Alabama’s mandatory surveillance law goes into effect | news

The Alabama Department of Justice says it has released 80 inmates under a new mandatory surveillance law that went into effect Tuesday.

It’s significantly fewer than the 412 inmates expected to be released.

On Tuesday morning, a judge issued an order barring ADOC from releasing a detainee without first notifying the victim’s family or an interested party.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit Monday. He told WAAY 31 he was extremely concerned after learning ADOC had only been in contact with fewer than 20 victims as of Friday.

“I’ve sat with many victims at a parole hearing as they protested this release and just to see how the thought of someone back on the streets had affected them. We wanted to make sure their voices were heard,” Marshall said.

ADOC Commissioner John Hamm wrote Marshall a letter assuring him that no inmate would be released without first notifying the victims, as required by state law.

Governor Kay Ivey signed the mandatory surveillance bill into law back in October 2021. It allows inmates who are only a few months away from their sentence to have an early release under supervision. That means electronic monitors and filings with the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. ADOC may also require certain inmates to go to a rehabilitation facility, mental health center, or other program it deems necessary.

Inmates will be monitored until their sentences should end.

If a supervised inmate turns off his monitor, fails a drug test, or doesn’t report in, he’s returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. If they commit a crime while away, they face even more time in prison depending on the crime.

Marshall said he’s always opposed the idea because it allows violent criminals, such as convicted murderers, rapists and robbers, to return to the streets.

“We’ve never had to do that in Alabama. We don’t have any experience with that, and that’s surveillance for violent criminals,” Marshall said. “The other thing we see, even on the nonviolent side, is that the majority of these individuals have been under supervision before and they fail. The question I would really ask the proponents is why should we expect them to do it any differently here?”

However, many believe the law could actually benefit public safety.

“Under Governor Ivey, public safety will always be a priority and she will always be an advocate for victims and an upholder of justice. This is a public safety, common sense measure and is being implemented with respect for the rights of crime victims,” ​​said Ivey’s spokeswoman, Gina Maiola.

Alabama prison wire

Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles director Cam Ward said his job is just to obey the law, but he understands what some proponents were thinking when they passed it.

“I think the way the law got passed was they were like, ‘They’re going to come out in two to 10 months, never mind. They’re coming out,'” Ward said. “What do you want? Do you want them to be supervised, or do you want them to have free reign and no one to supervise? Because once they finish a sentence, we don’t have any jurisdiction. No one in the state of Alabama can supervise them, ask them to check in, or watch them. I totally understand the fears…but I think at the end of the day it’s the law.

The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles said they were preparing for the law’s enactment.

They were paid an additional $4.5 million for electronic surveillance and even more money to hire more officers to oversee the additional inmates. Still, Ward doesn’t expect the influx to cause them too much trouble.

“Some of these people will even be under our care for just a few weeks. So, over a period of, you know, a year, everyone who was released today or longer, they won’t be with us anymore,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact on our staff, although we’ve prepared for and are ready for a slightly increased workload.”

The reason for this is the country’s mandatory supervisory law.