Criminal Justice

All Alabamians deserve equal justice under the law. But from court fees to civil asset forfeiture to capital punishment, our state’s justice system contains a range of policies that often take a heavier toll on people who live in poverty. Arise works to explain how these practices affect the lives of low-income Alabamians and to propose reforms aimed at ensuring greater fairness and equity for all.

Fact Sheet

Criminal justice debt creates major barriers to economic health

It is unconstitutional to jail someone just because they owe money. But Alabama has no set process for courts to determine if a defendant can afford to pay fines and fees. And though debtors’ prisons are illegal, thousands of Alabamians are in danger of going to jail or are driven further into poverty because they [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 6, 2022
Author
Dev Wakeley
Fact Sheet

Alabama’s death penalty practices remain unjust and unusually cruel

Americans increasingly oppose the death penalty. Gallup found that opposition to the death penalty more than doubled in the past 25 years. This may result from disturbingly high error rates in the system. For every 10 people executed since 1976, one innocent person on death row has been set free. Alabama took an important step toward death penalty reform [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 6, 2022
Author
Dev Wakeley
Letters & Testimony

To strengthen the common good: Six principles for allocating Alabama’s ARPA funding

Introduction Dear Governor Ivey, One of the darkest years in recent memory has put Alabama’s families, communities, health system, businesses – and our leaders at all levels – to the test. Thank you for all your efforts to keep Alabamians safe and secure during this unprecedented emergency. Now that a post-COVID world is dawning, the [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform, Economic Opportunity, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion
Date
July 7, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Letters & Testimony

Alabama should use federal COVID-19 relief funds to heal and protect communities, Arise and partners write

To members of the Alabama Legislature, Alabama is struggling. Even after Governor Ivey issued an emergency stay-at-home order, the average number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise. And despite those climbing case numbers, Alabama is moving forward with reopening its economy. To accomplish a successful recovery, residents must have confidence that it is safe [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Coronavirus
Date
June 9, 2020
Author
Alabama Arise
Fact Sheet

The new poll tax: Court debt and voting rights in Alabama

Everyone should be able to have a voice in governmental decisions that affect their daily lives. Voting is the most straightforward way Alabamians have to shape those decisions. But our state has a long, sad legacy of voter suppression tactics. As a result, Alabama today has more disenfranchised citizens than California, a state with eight [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Voting Rights
Date
January 15, 2020
Author
Dev Wakeley
Fact Sheet

Criminal justice debt: A modern-day debtors’ prison

By Carol Gundlach and Dev Wakeley, policy analysts It is unconstitutional to jail a person in the United States just because he or she owes money. But Alabama has no process for courts to determine if a defendant can afford to pay fees and fines. And despite a prohibition on “debtors’ prisons,” thousands of Alabamians [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 10, 2020
Author
Carol Gundlach
Fact Sheet

Injustices remain in Alabama’s death penalty practices

Alabama took an important step toward death penalty reform in 2017, but numerous problems remain. That year, the state finally outlawed judicial override in capital cases. That change means judges no longer can impose the death penalty when a jury recommends life without parole. But the ban was not retroactive, and 35 people who were [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 9, 2020
Author
Dev Wakeley
Fact Sheet

Why Medicaid expansion is a must for prison reform in Alabama

Against a backdrop of human tragedy, Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy is working toward a January deadline for its recommendations to the Legislature. The U.S. Department of Justice in April issued a sobering overview of the Alabama corrections system’s numerous shortcomings. And the Montgomery Advertiser shed further light on the situation [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health, Medicaid Expansion
Date
November 26, 2019
Author
Jim Carnes
Fact Sheet

Ensuring basic fairness: Civil asset forfeiture reform in Alabama

Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is a basic guarantee of both the U.S. and Alabama constitutions. But Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture policies allow police to seize cars, cash or other personal property without a conviction – or even a criminal charge – if they find probable cause to link the property to a crime. [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
February 8, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
Fact Sheet

SB 55: Allowing ALEA to issue hardship driving permits makes sense for Alabama

Update: SB 55 is now law! Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill on March 22, following votes in the Alabama House (95-1) and Senate (26-1) to pass a conference committee version of the bill on March 15. Earlier, the House voted 88-5 for a similar version on March 1, while the Senate voted 26-1 for [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
March 22, 2018
Author
Dev Wakeley
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