This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that, if enacted, would result in significantly widening Alabama’s detention net. Current constitutional language states that everyone has the right to bail, except for people facing capital offenses, for whom bail can be denied. The proposed language expands the categories of people who can be denied bail to include people accused of offenses carrying a punishment of life imprisonment or life without parole. The bill also takes away the right to bail and increases judicial discretion to detain anyone accused of a crime if the court finds that there are no conditions that can ensure the person’s appearance, ensure the integrity of the judicial process (i.e., preventing obstruction or witness tampering), or address a risk of harm to the person accused or the community at large.
This bill was introduced by Rep. Brown on March 21, 2019. It was assigned to House Judiciary Committee, where it passed with one amendment, changing the language from "capital offenses" to "class A felonies listed in chapter 6 of title 13A." This amendment widens the number of offenses that qualify for a person to be held without bail. It passed 92-3 in the House on Tuesday, May 21. Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, May 28, but it was carried over to Wednesday, May 29 due to lack of time. However, it was still placed last on the agenda, behind 17 other bills, so by the time HB282 came up, the committee had lost quorum due to members having to leave for other committee meetings. This means the bill did not pass, but we expect to see it again in the future.
- 4/3/2019 - Mobile weighs support for constitutional amendment altering bail restrictions [AL.com]
- 5/1/2019 - Alabama bill giving judges more power to hold people without bail passes first hurdle [AL.com]
- 5/13/2019 - Will holding more people without bail improve safety or overcrowd Alabama jails? [AL.com]
- 5/29/2019 - Amendment overhauling bail stalls in Senate [Montgomery Advertiser]