Background: House Bill 16 proposes the creation of a Criminal Justice Policy Development Council to strengthen oversight of the Alabama Board of Pardon and Paroles. The council, comprised of members of the Alabama Legislature and other state agencies, would be tasked with reviewing the board’s current guidelines for release, adopting new guidelines as necessary, updating the Alabama Department of Corrections' classification system, and adopting a validated risk assessment tool. Those who are parole eligible must still meet the criteria for release, however, HB 16 would require the Board of Pardon and Paroles to follow its release guidelines and provide written explanation for approval or denial of any individual for consideration. When the board deviates from its guidelines, the decision is subject to appellate review by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. 

Our Position: We support HB 16. Alabama’s dysfunctional parole board undermines justice and public safety by consistently deviating from its guidelines for parole release. Parole denials are at a historic high. According to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, 90% of the individuals considered by the board were denied. The highest rate of denials is happening for individuals in minimum-security prisons, many who are on work release, and are still denied a second chance by the parole board despite working in public and on the state’s behalf. HB 16 allows the Alabama Legislature an opportunity to ensure that the board is closely following guidelines that have been carefully assessed and implemented by a range of stakeholders in the criminal legal system.

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Rep. Chris England

Bill number

HB 16