This bill would provide for the voluntary transfer of a case from a municipal court to the county district or circuit court when the defendant qualifies for a pretrial diversion program, mental health court, drug court, veterans' court, or similar program that is offered by the county district or circuit court and not offered by the municipal court.
We support this bill because any meaningful effort to reduce Alabama's prison overcrowding must include prevention-oriented approaches that help divert people to rehabilitative programs. Learn more about legislative solutions to reducing mass incarceration in our 50 State Blueprint for Alabama.
The bill was pre-filed on February 11, 2019 and assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. It passed unanimously out of committee on March 20. An amendment was offered to change the word "consultation" to "agreement." The amendment has not been voted on, but it and the bill await a vote by the full Senate.
ACLU of Alabama Comment
"Diversion programs are a critically important component of our legal system that should be widely accessible. Each year, a significant number of people are arrested and incarcerated who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges, often as a result of a lack of treatment. A true justice system should seek to rehabilitate, not to simply condemn and exile. SB31 takes the correct step to ensure that those affected by substance abuse and mental health are able to be transferred to courts that can appropriately divert them to services that will help them, not punish them."