Alabama’s state prisons are America’s most crowded, currently operating at approximately 190 percent of capacity. The state has the third-highest incarceration rate in the country and a corrections budget that has increased from $309 million to $460 million over the past decade.
To address these issues, earlier this year, the Alabama legislature passed a joint resolution (SJR 20) creating the bipartisan Prison Reform Task Force, which is made up of 26 people representing all three branches of government and agencies across the state’s criminal justice system. The task force held its first meeting in June and has since been working with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.
“The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is an opportunity for Alabama to examine the criminal justice system in order to reduce prison crowding and increase public safety,” said Governor Robert Bentley (pictured left). “The number of inmates incarcerated in Alabama has significantly increased over the last decade. We have an opportunity to examine areas to maximize efforts in the criminal justice system that will benefit our Department of Corrections.”
The task force will meet throughout 2014 and guide the CSG Justice Center’s continuing analyses of the state’s criminal justice trends. CSG Justice Center staff will also convene focus groups and lead interviews with people who work in Alabama’s criminal justice system. The resulting quantitative and qualitative data will help the task force develop policy options for the legislature’s consideration by 2015.
Over the past several years, the CSG Justice Center has helped 20 other states across the country—including Idaho, North Carolina, Kansas, and Texas—apply the justice reinvestment approach. The initiative is made possible by a partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
To learn more about Alabama’s justice reinvestment project, please click here.