The ACLU of Alabama seeks an end to policies within the criminal justice system that cause widespread violation of constitutional and human rights and also lead to unprecedented levels of incarceration. Additionally, in spite of the fact that the death penalty is discriminatory, arbitrary, and inherently violates the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment, Alabama continues its practice.

Considering the failed death penalty system, overly-harsh mandatory minimum sentencing, lengthy prison terms for drug possession, over-incarceration of non-violent offenders, and zero-tolerance school policies, our criminal justice system is in need of reform.

Alabama’s criminal legal system is ineffective, unjust, and unconstitutional. Alabama’s criminal legal system is designed to incarcerate as many people as possible, for as long as possible, often for minor offenses that pose no threat to public safety. In early 2023, it was estimated that more than 58 percent of people in Alabama prisons were incarcerated for property and drug offenses. 

And state leaders want to get tougher on people. One out of every six bills proposed by Alabama lawmakers in 2022 would have criminalized more behaviors and increased penalties for existing crimes even though our state already imprisons more people than most states. Not unexpectantly, state lawmakers’ inclination to over-legislate and over-police behavior continues in the 2023 legislative session.