‘It’s concerning’; Alabama state senator speaks out on statewide inmate release

Chris Elliott is concerned about offenders assimilating back into Alabama communities before their sentencing time is up
Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:15 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It’s been three days since some inmates across Alabama were released due to a new law.

As of Thursday, Alabama Department of Corrections says they released 134 inmates across the state. On Friday, they released another big wave.

Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch says 18 inmates were released on Friday.

The law was created to fight overcrowding in prisons by allowing offenders to get out of prison early. The offenders spend the last 3-12 months of their sentenced on supervised release where they are required to wear ankle monitors.

Alabama State Sen. Chris Elliott is concerned about the potential consequences of this new law.

“We have a Department of Corrections and Bureau of Pardons and Paroles not communicating well about these inmates that are being released,” he explained. “You have the Department of Corrections issuing public safety bulletins to local law enforcement, district attorneys, and to sheriffs and police chiefs-letting them know ahead of time that dangerous criminals are being released into the community.”

At first, 30 inmates were expected to be released from Mobile County, but those numbers have jumped.

“When we initially learned about the release, the information that was sent to us was about 30 inmates coming back to Mobile -- whose cases originated in Mobile. This morning, I learned that there will be another 18 released today,” said Burch.

“And then in the coming weeks- another 22-23 inmates. And in the other wave, about 40 after that. In all, it’s about 70 inmates coming back to the Mobile area in this mass release,” added Burch.

Burch says it’s critical that the process happens in waves.

“We would much rather it happen in waves rather than just one mass release. I would say part of that is to make sure that through this program—they’re supposed to be outfitted and vetted with electronic monitoring devices and I would think if you did it all at one time it would be a really big burden on Pardon and Paroles,” explained Burch.

Meanwhile, Elliott says there are several dangers to this law. Elliott is working on a bill to halt inmates from being released back into the community.

“I have introduced Senate Bill 7 which the legislature will take up when it comes back in in March- will push the effective date back on the legislation until 2030, so that my colleagues that did vote for this original bill will have the opportunity to re-evaluate their position as they’ve seen violent criminals released back into the public,” said Elliott.

Until the legislature reconvenes in March, Elliott is warning folks to be cautious and aware.

“It is something that is concerning to me. With recidivism rates of criminals like this in the mid-30s or so, it is not likely but probable that one or more of these individuals will re-offend and we should be vigilant until we can get this delayed or reversed,” stated Elliott.


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