Hundreds of Alabama inmates serving life sentences for robbery and other crimes under Alabama’s draconian recidivism law could see their sentences reviewed under a bill that went into effect Wednesday.
The Alabama Judiciary Commission approved a bill by Rep. Chris England, a Tuscaloosa Democrat. The bill would establish a temporary review process for a small group of inmates sentenced before May 26, 2000. They are entitled to have their sentences reviewed if they have suffered bodily harm. The bill is currently in the Alabama House of Representatives.
England estimates that around 300 to 400 inmates were sentenced to life imprisonment at a young age, mostly for crimes such as robbery, and are subject to a one-time review. He said the bill is intended to pave the way for reconsideration for those who were sentenced to harsh penalties decades ago and may not have received the same sentences today.
Chicago man sentenced to 60-92 years in prison for Iowa deputy shooting
“I think you can see that these people weren’t defined by their worst moments,” England told reporters after the vote.
The bill would establish a process for judges to hear petitions for reduced sentences from eligible prisoners. Decisions are final. The law will be automatically repealed within five years.
Alabama Appleseed, a nonprofit that works on criminal justice reform, had pushed for the bill to pass.
Alabama Appleseed policy director Frederick Speight said many of the life sentences were handed down for robbery and robbery convictions in the 1980s and 1990s.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“All these people were destined to die in prison, so now at least they have a way out,” Speight said.
The Judiciary Committee approved the bill with a majority vote, with just one or two negative votes.