This bill would repeal Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA), provide for resentencing for defendants whose sentences were based on HFOA, and make nonsubstantive, technical revisions to update the existing code language to current style.
ACTION ALERT: Contact House Judiciary Committee now!
The House Judiciary Committee has set an ambitious agenda that includes several bills, one of which would repeal Alabama’s draconian Habitual Felony Offender Act. The law creates widespread sentencing disparity and unjustly incarcerates too many people for far too long. Overly punitive policies like the habitual offender law have led to Alabama's horrendously overcrowded prisons.
Contact the House Judiciary Committee members NOW and let them know that they should support HB 107. Follow the guide below to send your message.
- Press the play button on the widget below.
- Click on 'Contact a legislator' in the lower right-hand corner.
- Enter your name and contact information.
- Read over the pre-drafted message and feel free to add your own comment.
- Press the 'Send' button and wait for the button to say 'Success'.
- Congrats! You've successfully taken action on fighting for Alabama criminal law reform.
The below widget also has more information about HB107, including where it is in the Legislature, the latest version, and you can sign up for e-mail updates from Fast Democracy.
Background on HFOA
In 2020, more than 500 people were serving life without parole under Alabama’s draconian “Habitual Felony Offender Act” or HFOA. The law — passed at the dawn of the tough-on-crime era — mandates longer sentences each time someone commits a felony, regardless of the time between offenses. The law was amended in 2000, ostensibly to make it less severe, but it still mandates a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for anyone convicted of a Class A offense if they have three prior felonies on their record and one of them is a Class A offense, even if the prior offenses were committed decades ago. Class A offenses include murder and rape, but also robbery, burglary, drug trafficking and manufacturing of a controlled substance.
This means someone could be sentenced to die in prison for a single burglary or robbery and three prior forgery or drug convictions. This outsized punishment has resulted in hundreds of people being sent to prison for the rest of their natural lives for a handful of offenses committed when they were young, many involving no bodily injury.
In 2014, Alabama’s legislature repealed the retroactive application of the 2000 amendment to the HFOA, taking away the only avenue available for this population to apply for a sentence reduction. The legislature did this at the request of Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals, which complained that the law was being used by “prolific pro se litigants to file frivolous petitions.” The result of the repeal means hundreds of people who wouldn’t be sentenced to LWOP today are trapped in Alabama’s violent and overcrowded prisons until they die with no legal means for release.
Additional Ways To Get Involved
- Sign our petition that calls on Alabama legislators to repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act.
- Become a Smart Justice Pen Pal and break the isolation by writing to incarcerated Alabamians.
- Join the Alabamians for Fair Justice coaliton and advocate for criminal justice policy changes.
- 2/23/21 - I was a habitual offender, but I am much more than my past [Montgomery Advertiser]
- 2/22/21 - Letter to lawmakers: Repeal Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act [Alabama Political Reporter]
- 2/3/21 - Bill to repeal Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act stalls [AL.com]
- 2/2/21 - ACLU of Alabama says new prisons not the answer to “unconstitutional conditions” [Alabama Political Reporter]
- Following the 2021 Legislative Session
- Alabama's Campaign for Smart Justice
- Video: Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act Explained
- Handout: HFOA - Driving Mass Incarceration Since 1977 [PDF]
Page last revised: February 24, 2021