Importance of the Parole Board
More than 20,000 people are locked up in Alabama prisons. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), state facilities are are at 160 percent of their intended occupancy as they’re collectively designed to hold only only 13,000 prisoners.
While the State Legislature added an additional $85 million for the state prison system over the next two years — to address the prison’s mental health systems, following U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson‘s declaration that the state has failed to provide mental health care to the state’s prison population and is in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment — lawmakers have yet to tackle fully he systemic problem of overcrowding.
Enter the Alabama Pardon and Parole Board — part of the state’s answer to helping reduce prison overcrowding.
Since the passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act (Act 2015-185) in 2015, the board has been tasked with implementing specific reforms targeted at reducing the prison population.
According to the Board’s FY 2017 Annual Report, the Justice Reinvestment Act “requires a clear definition of the parole standard of release and establishment of actuarially based ‘parole guidelines,’ which include reasons for granting and denying parole. Reforms involving the Board’s paroling process achieve greater transparency for the public, crime victims, inmates, and system stakeholders regarding the process, itself, and factors guiding release decisions.”