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News Releases

Death penalty moratorium is a chance to end injustices in Alabama’s capital punishment system

Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden released the following statement Monday in response to Gov. Kay Ivey’s request for a pause on executions in Alabama: “All Alabamians deserve equal justice under the law. Gov. Kay Ivey’s call for a temporary halt to executions is a welcome and necessary move toward ending many of the injustices [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
November 21, 2022
Author
Chris Sanders
News Releases

Alabama Arise unveils 2023 roadmap for change in Alabama

Expanding Medicaid and ending the state sales tax on groceries will remain top goals on Alabama Arise’s 2023 legislative agenda. More than 400 members voted on Arise’s issue priorities in recent days after the organization’s annual meeting Saturday. The seven issues chosen were: Adequate budgets for human services like education, health care and child care, [...]
Issues
Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Tax Reform
Date
September 29, 2022
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Here’s what Alabama Arise heard from you in summer 2022!

We deeply value the input we get from Alabama Arise members, our allies and most importantly, those directly affected by the work we do together. We depend on what we hear to help guide our issue work and our strategies. Despite the ongoing challenges of connecting in person, we kept working at finding ways to [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
September 20, 2022
Author
Presdelane Harris
Blog

Join us for Town Hall Tuesdays!

Listening is key to shaping and advancing public policies that matter most to those marginalized by bad policies. Alabama Arise depends on what we hear to help guide our work toward our vision of a better Alabama for all. Our online Town Hall Tuesdays will return once again this year. These events are a chance [...]
Issues
Health, Safety Net, Voting Rights, Criminal Justice
Date
May 2, 2022
Author
Presdelane Harris
Blog

Highs and lows: Alabama Arise’s look back at the 2022 regular session

The Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session adjourned sine die late on Thursday, April 7. Lawmakers capped off the session’s last week with intense debates and late nights, with the final gavel dropping just before midnight. Alabama Arise is grateful for the many positive outcomes that came out of the State House this year. We also [...]
Issues
Safety Net, Tax Reform, Voting Rights, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
April 12, 2022
Author
Blog

Arise legislative update: April 12, 2022

Arise's Robyn Hyden breaks down successes and missed opportunities from the Alabama Legislature's 2022 regular session, which ended Thursday night. She highlights breakthroughs on federal ARPA funds, postpartum Medicaid extension and criminal justice reform, among other issues.
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
April 12, 2022
Author
Blog

Grocery tax, health care key Arise focuses this year

Untax groceries. Expand health coverage. Make the criminal justice system more just. Those are a few of Alabama Arise’s major priorities during the Legislature’s 2022 regular session. And we’re making real progress toward turning those goals into realities. Untaxing groceries Ending the state’s regressive sales tax on groceries has been a longtime Arise priority. It [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Tax Reform, Medicaid Expansion
Date
March 7, 2022
Author
Chris Sanders
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
Blog

Funding boosts bring opportunity to invest in Alabama’s future

Alabama’s broken tax system usually starves our state of money to fund basic responsibilities adequately. But 2022 may be different. Record tax revenues and a surge of federal recovery dollars could allow lawmakers to address longstanding state needs and inequities – if they have the political courage. State revenues that pay for our schools, including [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health, Tax Reform, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets
Date
December 10, 2021
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Recovering from Alabama’s costly mistake on COVID-19 recovery funds

This post originally appeared on the Economic Policy Institute's blog. When the Alabama Legislature gathered for a special session in September, it made a shortsighted and costly mistake. Lawmakers chose to allocate $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money ‒ about 20% of Alabama’s federal COVID-19 relief funds ‒ to help finance a [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Public Transportation, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion
Date
November 8, 2021
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

Arise legislative update: Oct. 6, 2021

Alabama legislators passed a reentry reform bill during last week's special session, but they declined to approve sentencing reform. Lawmakers also allocated $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds to new prison construction. Arise's Dev Wakeley breaks down what 2021's first special session meant for the future of Alabama's corrections system and talks about how [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
October 6, 2021
Author
News Releases

Alabama Arise unveils members’ 2022 roadmap for change

Sentencing reform and voting rights expansion are two key goals on Alabama Arise’s 2022 legislative agenda. Members voted for Arise’s issue priorities this week after nearly 300 people attended the organization’s online annual meeting Saturday. The seven issues chosen were: Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and ending the state’s upside-down deduction for federal income taxes, [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion
Date
October 1, 2021
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Alabama Arise keeps listening. Here’s what we heard in 2021!

Listening is a core value of Alabama Arise. We deeply value the input we get from our members, our allies and most importantly, those directly affected by the work we do together. We depend on what we hear to help guide our issue work and our strategies. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continued to challenge us [...]
Issues
Voting Rights, Coronavirus, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Public Transportation, Economic Opportunity
Date
September 22, 2021
Author
Presdelane Harris
Blog

Special session(s) ahead in Alabama? How Arise is preparing

Alabama Arise’s work for equity, justice and opportunity persisted after the Legislature’s regular session ended. We’ll renew our commitment to those principles when Arise members choose 2022 issue priorities after the Sept. 25 annual meeting. And we’ll keep up the drumbeat when lawmakers return later this year for one or more expected special sessions. Alabama’s [...]
Issues
Public Transportation, Safety Net, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
September 2, 2021
Author
Chris Sanders
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
Housing, Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform, Economic Opportunity, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
July 7, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Incremental isn’t enough: Alabama’s continued need for criminal justice reform

Alabamians deserve a criminal justice system that treats people fairly when they are accused of crimes, rehabilitates people as quickly as possible and releases people once they’re ready to rejoin the community. But Alabama’s criminal justice system doesn’t meet those standards, and the state’s prisons are dangerous warehouses, not rehabilitation centers. Three inmates were murdered [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
June 14, 2021
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

The dark road not taken in the 2021 regular session

Predicting actions and outcomes of a legislative session is never an easy bet. When the Alabama Legislature opened its 2021 regular session in February, our crystal ball was even cloudier than usual. Strong currents of anxiety were sweeping the country amid fear and frustration over COVID-19 and precautionary measures, conflicting beliefs about racial justice and [...]
Issues
Health, Voting Rights, Coronavirus, Criminal Justice
Date
June 8, 2021
Author
Jim Carnes
Blog

Arise advances justice in a pandemic session

Advocacy barriers for Alabama Arise members were extraordinarily high during the Legislature’s 2021 regular session. The COVID-19 pandemic limited physical access to the State House and made a difficult policy landscape even rockier. But Arise members were undeterred. They spoke out forcefully and repeatedly for justice and opportunity. And the result was real, meaningful progress [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Safety Net, Economic Opportunity, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion
Date
June 8, 2021
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

You’re invited to Arise’s 2021 Town Hall Tuesdays!

Arise’s statewide online summer listening sessions are a chance to hear what’s happening on key state policy issues and share your vision for our 2022 policy agenda. Register now to help identify emerging issues and inform our work to build a better Alabama. We’d love to see you at any or all of these sessions! [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
May 27, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Arise legislative recap: May 27, 2021

Arise's Robyn Hyden recaps the Alabama Legislature's 2021 regular session. She discusses several policy wins that Arise members should celebrate, including the defeat of legislation that would limit the right to protest and passage of a bill to promote equitable access to broadband.
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion
Date
May 27, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Arise legislative recap: May 3, 2021

Arise’s Dev Wakeley brings us up to speed on where we stand in the final days of the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session. He provides overviews of meaningful bills we hope will pass — and of harmful bills we hope won’t.  
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
May 3, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Alabama Arise Action 2021 annual meeting

The Arise policy and campaign teams gave updates on criminal justice reform, voting rights, Medicaid expansion and other issue priorities during Alabama Arise Action's annual meeting last week. Sen. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, also called in to provide insight from the legislative side of the 2021 regular session. (Note: The video captions were generated live during [...]
Issues
Health, Budgets, Criminal Justice
Date
April 26, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Needed changes still possible as Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session winds down

The Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session has been a difficult one, to say the least. Public access remains limited, and lawmakers have advanced some of the most damaging bills in years. And many legislators have forced attention onto high-profile, controversial bills to foment conflict and remove focus from priorities that would benefit all Alabamians. But [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
April 21, 2021
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

Money matters: Budgets top priority for session; lawmakers also discussing Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, voting rights this year

As the Alabama Legislature approaches the 2021 regular session's final days, both state budgets are halfway to passage. The Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget has passed in the Senate and is in the House’s education budget committee. The General Fund (GF) budget, which funds all non-education services, has cleared the House and awaits Senate committee [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Voting Rights
Date
April 14, 2021
Author
Jim Carnes
Blog

Arise legislative recap: April 5, 2021

Arise's Jim Carnes provides an update on several good bills that won committee approval, including legislation to repeal Alabama's broken and harmful Habitual Felony Offender Act. He also acknowledges a disturbing trend of bills that aim to limit the power of Alabama's public health officials to respond to pandemics and other emergencies.
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health
Date
April 5, 2021
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

Arise legislative recap: March 19, 2021

As the Alabama Legislature reaches the midpoint of this year’s regular session, Arise’s Celida Soto Garcia brings us up to date with the session so far. Lawmakers sadly have neglected many key needs while advancing numerous bills that would infringe on the civil rights of Alabamians. We need you to speak out for a better [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Tax Reform, Voting Rights
Date
March 19, 2021
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

How Alabama Arise is working to build a brighter future after the pandemic

After a year of darkness, the light at the end of the tunnel is finally in sight. Promising vaccine news offers hope that public health officials can rein in COVID-19 in the coming months. And as our state and nation seek policy solutions to rebuild from the pandemic’s health and economic devastation, Alabama Arise will [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
December 8, 2020
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Join us at Alabama Arise’s 2021 action briefings!

Alabama’s 2021 legislative session begins Feb. 2. It will not proceed as usual given the extraordinary times in which we live. But we still need to be prepared to move our issues forward. This series of briefings will both inform and equip us to act strategically to continue the work for a better Alabama for [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Voting Rights, Coronavirus
Date
December 7, 2020
Author
Presdelane Harris
News Releases

Alabama Arise unveils members’ 2021 roadmap for change

Sentencing reform and universal broadband access are two new goals on Alabama Arise’s 2021 legislative agenda. Members voted for Arise’s issue priorities this week after nearly 300 people attended the organization’s online annual meeting Saturday. The seven issues chosen were: Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and ending the state’s upside-down deduction for federal income taxes, [...]
Issues
Voting Rights, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Tax Reform, Other
Date
October 8, 2020
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Town Hall Tuesdays 2020: What we heard from Arise supporters

Listening is often an underdeveloped skill, yet it is critical for mutual understanding and working together for meaningful change. That’s why Arise is committed to listening to our members, to our allies and most importantly, to those directly affected by the work we do together. We depend on what we hear from you to guide [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Budgets, Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
September 30, 2020
Author
Presdelane Harris
News Releases

Groups urge Dismukes’ resignation, ask Legislature to dismantle white supremacy through policy change

       The following is a joint statement from Alabama Arise, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries: Our elected officials and appointed leaders should respect the full dignity, worth and humanity of all people they represent. We urge all political parties and public officials to acknowledge the harm that white [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
July 31, 2020
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

You’re invited to Arise’s Town Hall Tuesdays!

Arise’s statewide online summer listening sessions are a chance to hear what’s happening on key state policy issues and share your vision for our 2021 policy agenda. Register now to help identify emerging issues and inform our work to build a better Alabama. We'd love to see you at any or all of these sessions! [...]
Issues
Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform, Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Budgets, Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform
Date
June 15, 2020
Author
Presdelane Harris
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
Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Coronavirus, Budgets
Date
June 9, 2020
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Alabama must tear down the legacies of slavery and segregation

The monument stood in Birmingham for decades as a twisted tribute to Alabama’s original sins: slavery and white supremacy. It “honored” a violent rebellion that sought to protect the enslavement of human beings. During segregation and Jim Crow and civil rights protests and into the 21st century, it served as a daily 52-foot-tall reminder of [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Public Transportation, Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion
Date
June 3, 2020
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Targeted releases should be part of Alabama corrections system’s response to COVID-19 pandemic

State and local governments are responding in a variety of ways to the emergent coronavirus pandemic in Alabama. But that response thus far has fallen short where incarcerated people are concerned. The Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) has more than 27,500 people in custody right now. (For context, that’s more people than live in Anniston, [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health, Coronavirus
Date
March 24, 2020
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

Arise legislative recap: March 6, 2020

Arise's Jim Carnes discusses how the coronavirus outbreak and the closure of Pickens County Medical Center showcase Alabama's need for Medicaid expansion. Also, in the wake of the recent execution of Nathaniel Woods, Jim talks about HB 359, which would forbid the death penalty in capital cases where the jury does not agree unanimously to [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Coronavirus, Medicaid Expansion
Date
March 6, 2020
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

How Alabama can reform its criminal justice system to work for everyone

Alabamians deserve a justice system that sentences fairly, provides helpful rehabilitative services and keeps people safe during incarceration. But Alabama often falls catastrophically short of fulfilling those obligations. Our state’s prisons are violent and poorly staffed. As a result, they often function as little more than warehouses to keep people locked up until their sentences [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health
Date
February 4, 2020
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

Arise 2020: Our vision for a better Alabama

Alabama Arise members have worked for more than three decades to build a brighter, more inclusive future for our state. And as the Legislature’s 2020 regular session starts Tuesday, we’re proud to renew that commitment. Below, Arise executive director Robyn Hyden highlights some key goals for the session, including Medicaid expansion and untaxing groceries. How [...]
Issues
Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
February 4, 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
Blog

Arise 2020: Stop criminal justice debt from putting thousands of lives on hold

Criminal justice debt shouldn’t prevent a person from building a stable, secure life. But Alabama imposes millions of dollars in fines every year without considering a person’s ability to pay them. The state also conditions many rights and privileges, often including voting rights restoration, on whether a person has repaid fines. Further, despite a prohibition [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 10, 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
Blog

Arise 2020: End the injustices in Alabama’s death penalty system

All Alabamians deserve equal justice under the law. But bias and inequality persist in Alabama’s capital punishment system, despite recent reforms. Even though the state finally outlawed judicial override in 2017, the ban did not apply retroactively. That means dozens of people who were sentenced to death despite a jury’s sentencing recommendation of life without [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 9, 2020
Author
Dev Wakeley
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
Blog

Criminal justice study group offers Alabama a chance to set the right course toward reform

Alabama needs a criminal justice system that values the lives and well-being of everyone involved. Our state should treat people fairly, apply punishment humanely and focus on restoring offenders to productive roles in society. Alabama Arise is closely monitoring the Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy that Gov. Kay Ivey appointed in July. Former Alabama [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health
Date
September 12, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
News Releases

Alabama Arise members vow to renew ‘untax groceries’ push in 2020

Ending the state sales tax on groceries is one of the top goals on Alabama Arise’s 2020 legislative agenda. Nearly 200 Arise members picked the organization’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday in Montgomery. The seven issues chosen were: Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and ending the state’s upside-down deduction for federal income taxes, [...]
Issues
Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Tax Reform
Date
September 9, 2019
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Learn more about Arise’s 2020 issue proposals

Grassroots democracy will be on display when Alabama Arise members choose our 2020 issue priorities at our annual meeting Sept. 7 in Montgomery. The following proposals will be up for a vote for our 2020 legislative agenda. Housing Trust Fund revenue Voting rights Criminal justice debt reform Death penalty reform Payday and title lending reform [...]
Issues
Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
August 16, 2019
Author
Alabama Arise
Blog

Arise legislative recap: June 14, 2019

Now that the Alabama Legislature's 2019 regular session has come to a close, we've turned our focus to the expected special session on the state's prison crisis later this year. In our latest video, Arise's Jim Carnes explains how Medicaid expansion is an essential component of fixing the state's prison crisis and increasing economic opportunity [...]
Issues
Health, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice
Date
June 14, 2019
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

Arise legislative recap: June 7, 2019

Arise's Robyn Hyden looks back at some important policy wins -- and previews what's still to come -- following the conclusion of the Alabama Legislature's 2019 regular session.
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
June 7, 2019
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

The 2019 session that was, and the one yet to come

Alabama legislators ended their 2019 regular session last week. But they’re not done yet. Amid the threat of federal intervention, the Legislature likely will hold a special session this fall to address horrendous conditions in our state’s overcrowded prisons. This summer, Arise will continue making the case that meaningful prison reform must include Medicaid expansion. [...]
Issues
Safety Net, Tax Reform, Voting Rights, Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
June 7, 2019
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Arise legislative recap: May 31, 2019

Good news: We saw a breakthrough on civil asset forfeiture when the Alabama Legislature passed SB 191 this week! The version of the bill that lawmakers sent to the governor omits many of the due process protections that were in the original version. But it still will shine more light on this practice. And greater [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
May 31, 2019
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

On civil asset forfeiture reform, transparency is a good start – but there’s more to do

Civil asset forfeiture in Alabama lacks public accountability and tramples the property rights of thousands of people. Hundreds of Alabamians lose cash, cars and other property under this practice every year. Many of them are never convicted of a crime – or even charged with one. And many people can’t afford to hire a lawyer to [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
May 30, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
News Releases

Civil asset forfeiture transparency bill is a good start, but Alabamians still need much stronger protections

The Alabama House on Thursday passed SB 191, which would increase transparency around civil asset forfeiture in the state, sending it to Gov. Kay Ivey. Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden issued the following statement in response: “SB 191’s passage is a good first step toward bringing more transparency to Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture practices. [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
May 30, 2019
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Arise legislative recap: April 5, 2019

We're excited about some early progress on civil asset forfeiture reform at the State House. Below, Arise policy analyst Dev Wakeley breaks down the benefits of SB 191, which the Senate could vote on as early as Tuesday, April 9. For more information, visit our action alerts page to contact your senator and ask them [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
April 5, 2019
Author
Matt Okarmus
Blog

On civil asset forfeiture, Alabama Legislature takes initial steps toward progress

Alabamians deserve a legal system that respects their rights to due process. That includes not taking someone’s property without compensation unless there is clear and convincing evidence the property is linked to a crime. But under Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture practices, people can lose their possessions – without a conviction or even a criminal charge [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
April 4, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
Blog

Court rulings aid push for reforms of civil asset forfeiture, death penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court sent clear signals in February that the time is ripe for reform on two of Arise’s 2019 issue priorities. In Timbs v. Indiana, the court unanimously blocked Indiana’s attempt to use civil asset forfeiture to take a car that was worth much more than the maximum fine for the crime for [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
March 1, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
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
Blog

New hardship driver’s license rule will allow thousands of Alabamians to meet basic needs

A new rule could make it easier for many Alabamians to meet their basic needs. This change will allow tens of thousands of people who lost their driver’s licenses for reasons unrelated to public safety to apply for a hardship license from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). The new regulation took effect Sunday. Some [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 16, 2019
Author
Dev Wakeley
News Releases

Medicaid expansion, end to grocery tax highlight Alabama Arise’s 2019 priorities

Medicaid expansion and legislation to end the state sales tax on groceries are among the top goals on Alabama Arise’s 2019 legislative agenda. More than 200 Arise members picked the organization’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Montgomery. The seven issues chosen were: Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and closing [...]
Issues
Medicaid Expansion, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Tax Reform, Voting Rights
Date
September 12, 2018
Author
Chris Sanders
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
Blog

Push to block Alabama tax break for private school tuition succeeds; Ivey signs bill to create hardship driver’s licenses

Arise members had two big reasons to celebrate Thursday, as Gov. Kay Ivey signed a pair of bills that finalize policy wins related to our organization’s 2018 issue priorities. One law will halt (at least for now) an effort to create a new state tax break for private school tuition in Alabama, while the other [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Tax Reform
Date
March 22, 2018
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Plan to shorten appeals process in Alabama death penalty cases clears House, Senate committees

The Alabama House and Senate soon could vote on a plan to shorten the appeals process for people convicted of capital murder in the state. Judiciary Committee members in both the House and Senate approved the legislation Wednesday. The House panel voted 9-6 for HB 216, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville. Earlier, the Senate [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 22, 2018
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Bill to ease burden of cash bail on low-income Alabamians clears Senate committee

A bill that would significantly ease the financial burden on low-income Alabamians accused of municipal violations won unanimous Senate committee approval Wednesday. SB 31, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, would be a major step forward on criminal justice debt reform, which Arise members chose as one of our 2018 issue priorities. The bill cleared [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 10, 2018
Author
Dev Wakeley
News Releases

Medicaid funding, public transportation highlight Arise’s 2018 priorities

New Medicaid revenue and creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund are among the goals on Alabama Arise’s 2018 legislative agenda. Nearly 200 Arise members picked the group’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Montgomery. The seven goals chosen were: Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and closing corporate income [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Public Transportation, Tax Reform
Date
September 16, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

‘Ban the box’ bill clears first hurdle, wins Alabama Senate committee approval

Alabama lawmakers took a first step Wednesday toward enacting a policy that would make it easier for people to re-enter the workforce after serving their time for a criminal offense. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 for SB 200, which would create a “ban the box” policy for many state and local government jobs. The [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Economic Opportunity
Date
April 12, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
News Releases

End of judicial override is a win for justice in Alabama

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday, April 4, 2017, after the House voted 78-19 for a bill to end Alabama’s judicial override policy, which allows judges to impose a death sentence in capital cases despite a jury’s sentencing recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole: “Judicial [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
April 4, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

A victory for justice: Legislature votes to end judicial override in Alabama

UPDATE: Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB 16 into law on April 11, 2017, ending judicial override in all future capital cases in Alabama. The age of judicial override in the United States is about to come to an end. The Alabama House voted 78-19 Tuesday to end the practice, which allows judges to override juries’ [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
April 4, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

End of judicial override draws closer as Alabama House committee approves Senate bill

The era of judicial override in Alabama death penalty cases came one step closer to an end Wednesday, when the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would end the unusual practice. SB 16, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road, now awaits consideration by the full House. The Senate passed the bill 30-1 last month. [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
March 8, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
News Releases

Senate judicial override vote a good step to improve Alabama’s justice system

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, after the state Senate voted 30-1 to end Alabama’s judicial override policy, which allows judges to impose a death sentence in capital cases despite a jury’s sentencing recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole: “The Senate’s vote to [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
February 23, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
Fact Sheet

Juries matter: Why Alabama must end judicial override

The right to a trial by jury is one of the most sacred elements of the American criminal justice system. The basic principle of being judged by a jury of peers is a cornerstone of a nation built on a populist spirit and suspicion of elites. But in Alabama, members of a jury in a capital [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
February 15, 2017
Author
Stephen Stetson
Blog

Momentum to end judicial override in Alabama grows as bills clear committees in House, Senate

The movement to end judicial override in Alabama has won two big victories in the first two weeks of the Legislature’s 2017 regular session. The House Judiciary Committee voted 10-2 Wednesday to approve a bill to end Alabama’s practice of allowing judges to override juries’ sentencing recommendations in death penalty cases. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
February 15, 2017
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Medicaid cuts loom, payday reform falls just short as Alabama Legislature ends 2016 regular session

The Alabama Legislature’s 2016 regular session, which ended Wednesday, was more notable in many ways for what didn’t happen than for what did. Lawmakers did not agree on a revenue solution to prevent devastating Medicaid cuts that would reduce health care access for hundreds of thousands of children, seniors, and people with disabilities in Alabama. Despite enormous [...]
Issues
Voting Rights, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Tax Reform
Date
May 6, 2016
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Quick overviews of Arise’s 2016 issue priorities

Your time is important, and your voice for a better Alabama is essential. That's why we've prepared these quick overviews to keep you up-to-date on what's happening at the Alabama Legislature on Arise's 2016 issue priorities. We'll update this post as needed. "Ban the box" legislation: 'Ban the box' law would help rebuild lives in Alabama -- The [...]
Issues
Tax Reform, Economic Opportunity, Voting Rights, Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform
Date
May 5, 2016
Author
Alabama Arise
Fact Sheet

Death is different: Reforming Alabama’s capital punishment system

How sure are you that human beings will get it right every single time? A single small mistake in a death penalty case could result in an unjust execution – an error that can never be corrected. People accused of capital crimes deserve every possible safeguard to ensure the integrity of a conviction. Several bills [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
March 7, 2016
Author
Stephen Stetson
Fact Sheet

‘Ban the box’ law would help rebuild lives in Alabama

How sure are you that human beings will get it right every single time? A single small mistake in a death penalty case could result in an unjust execution – an error that can never be corrected. People accused of capital crimes deserve every possible safeguard to ensure the integrity of a conviction. Several bills [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
March 4, 2016
Author
Stephen Stetson
Blog

Bill to pause executions, create innocence commission clears Alabama Senate committee

Executions would stop in Alabama until at least June 2017 under a bill that the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved 10-0 Wednesday. The measure also would create a special commission to evaluate innocence claims in death penalty cases. (Read The Anniston Star’s coverage for more details.) SB 237, sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, would set up [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
February 24, 2016
Author
Stephen Stetson
Fact Sheet

A big win for second chances: Alabama’s lifetime SNAP and TANF bans end

It’s a quiet win for thousands of Alabamians seeking to rebuild their lives and provide for their families: Alabama is joining the majority of U.S. states by allowing people with a past felony drug conviction to receive SNAP food assistance and TANF financial assistance, as long as they are otherwise eligible. The effective starting date for [...]
Issues
Safety Net, Criminal Justice
Date
January 29, 2016
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

A budget at last: What got cut, what didn’t, and what’s next for Alabama

Three times proved to be the charm Wednesday night as the Alabama Legislature finally passed a General Fund (GF) budget and accompanying revenue bills. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the budget Thursday morning, a mere two weeks before the start of the 2016 budget year. Tax bills: What passed and what didn’t Alabama faced a GF [...]
Issues
Health, Safety Net, Tax Reform, Budgets, Criminal Justice
Date
September 18, 2015
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

What went well in 2015 — and the challenges that remain for Alabama

It’s over! But it’s not over yet. After approving a wholly inadequate General Fund budget that would jeopardize our state’s future, the Alabama Legislature ended the 2015 regular session Thursday. But Gov. Robert Bentley vetoed that budget, and he will call lawmakers back for a special session on the budget later this summer. Arise members celebrated some [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Housing, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
June 12, 2015
Author
Kimble Forrister
Blog

A quiet win: SNAP, TANF eligibility bans end under new Alabama prison reform law

Tucked away in the new prison reform law that Gov. Robert Bentley signed Thursday is a big win for second chances in Alabama: an end to the state’s lifetime eligibility bans for SNAP and TANF assistance for people with a past felony drug conviction. It’s a win on an issue that has been an Arise priority since [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
May 21, 2015
Author
Kimble Forrister
Blog

Alabama would suffer for years to come under no-new-revenue General Fund budget

Alabamians’ quality of life would suffer for years to come if the no-new-revenue General Fund (GF) budget that the House’s GF budget committee approved Thursday becomes reality. The House is expected to vote Tuesday on the budget, which would slash vital services like health care, child care and public safety. The state’s promising new reforms of Medicaid [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Tax Reform
Date
May 15, 2015
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Alabama crossroads: We need new revenue

We all want to live in a healthy, secure and prosperous state. Alabama is taking important steps toward that goal now, but deep General Fund budget cuts could undo that progress. Medicaid’s new regional care organizations will keep patients healthier while cutting costs. Prison system improvements will protect Alabamians while lowering costs and helping former inmates transition back [...]
Issues
Health, Tax Reform, Budgets, Criminal Justice
Date
April 23, 2015
Author
Kimble Forrister
Blog

Prison reform bill would end Alabama’s food assistance ban for former drug offenders

The sweeping prison reform bill that the Alabama Senate passed Thursday was amended to include one of Arise’s legislative priorities: ending the state’s SNAP and TANF eligibility bans for people with a past felony drug conviction. Senators voted 31-2 for SB 67, sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. The measure now goes to the House, [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
April 2, 2015
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Four things to know about Alabama’s 2016 funding challenges

It’s the latest verse of a decades-old song: Alabama faces yet another funding shortfall next year for vital services like Medicaid, mental health care and corrections. Here are four things to know about the budget challenges facing the Legislature during the 2015 regular session that began Tuesday. (1) Alabama’s revenues for the budgets that fund [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Tax Reform
Date
March 4, 2015
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Alabama Legislature OKs new requirements for TANF recipients, doesn’t end lifetime SNAP, TANF bans for people with felony drug conviction

People convicted of a drug-related felony will remain ineligible for food assistance or cash welfare benefits in Alabama after the state House adjourned Thursday night without passing a bill to end the state’s lifetime eligibility bans for them. Lawmakers approved several other bills related to public benefits this week, including a requirement for some applicants [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
April 3, 2014
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Alabama Legislature passes ETF budget, goes home without approving bills on payday lending, execution drug secrecy

Alabama lawmakers passed a $5.9 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget without a pay raise for K-12 teachers just before the 2014 regular session ended Thursday night. The House voted 54-45 to agree to the compromise budget that the Senate approved Tuesday. That leaves Gov. Robert Bentley, who urged the Legislature to approve a 2 percent [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Payday & Title Lending Reform, Safety Net, Tax Reform
Date
April 3, 2014
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Bill to end lifetime SNAP, TANF bans still alive but loses procedural vote in Alabama House

A bill to allow people convicted of a drug-related felony to regain eligibility for food assistance or cash welfare benefits in Alabama suffered a setback Wednesday when it failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the state House. The House voted 55-43 Wednesday to consider SB 303, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham. That majority [...]
Issues
Safety Net, Criminal Justice
Date
April 2, 2014
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Alabama Senate committee amends execution drug secrecy bill, approves HIV drug redistribution bill

An Alabama Senate committee Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would keep the identities of people involved in carrying out state-sanctioned executions secret in most instances. But the Senate Health Committee amended the bill to divulge the names of companies that manufacture or supply lethal injection drugs if a judge orders their release. HB 379, [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Health
Date
March 19, 2014
Author
M.J. Ellington
Blog

Alabama House could vote next week on bill to end lifetime SNAP, TANF bans for people with felony drug conviction

The Alabama House could vote as soon as Tuesday on a bill that would allow people convicted of a drug-related felony to regain eligibility for food assistance or cash welfare benefits. A House committee Wednesday approved the bill, which the Senate passed last month. SB 303, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, awaits consideration by [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
March 12, 2014
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Senate passes bill to end Alabama’s lifetime SNAP, TANF bans for people with felony drug conviction

People convicted of a drug-related felony could regain their eligibility for food assistance or cash welfare benefits in Alabama under a bill that the state Senate passed 18-8 Thursday. SB 303, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, moves to the House. SB 303 would allow otherwise eligible people to receive food assistance or cash welfare [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
February 27, 2014
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Legacies of recession, chronic shortfalls linger in Alabama’s budgets

State support for education and other public services under the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and General Fund (GF) next year would not come close to its pre-recession level under the budgets that advanced in the Alabama Legislature on Wednesday. Both budgets are built on the assumption that the state will see no major revenue increases [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health, Tax Reform, Medicaid Expansion
Date
February 26, 2014
Author
Chris Sanders
Blog

Medicaid, prison funding challenges remain as Alabama House committee OKs barebones General Fund budget

Medicaid, mental health and other human services in Alabama would face yet another year of tight funding under the General Fund (GF) budget that cleared a state House committee Wednesday. The committee’s version was virtually identical to the one that Gov. Robert Bentley recommended last month. The committee approved next year’s proposed $1.8 billion operating [...]
Issues
Budgets, Criminal Justice, Health
Date
February 20, 2014
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Alabama Senate panel OKs bill to lift lifetime SNAP, TANF bans for people with felony drug conviction

An Alabama Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that would allow people who were convicted of a drug-related felony to regain eligibility for food assistance or cash welfare benefits. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability (FR&A) Committee voted 5-2 to send the bill to the full Senate for consideration. Alabama is one of just 10 [...]
Issues
Criminal Justice, Safety Net
Date
February 12, 2014
Author
Carol Gundlach
Blog

Bills to shorten Alabama’s death penalty appeals process speeding toward committee votes

House and Senate committees are set to vote Wednesday afternoon on proposals to shorten the appeals process for people convicted of capital murder in Alabama. Members of both chambers’ Judiciary Committees gathered Tuesday to hear public testimony on the legislation – HB 216, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, and SB 194, sponsored by Sen. [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 21, 2014
Author
Stephen Stetson
Fact Sheet

Against the tide: The death penalty in Alabama

In Alabama, the death penalty is a curious exception to concerns about government efficiency. When it comes to executing people, a majority of Alabamians appear to trust the government to get it right every time. Lack of transparency in our capital punishment system prompts little public comment. Similarly, on the fiscal side, calls for reducing Alabama's [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
December 6, 2012
Author
Stephen Stetson
Fact Sheet

A temporary halt: Alabama’s executions

Alabama has a long and tangled history with the death penalty. A Tuskegee University archive preserves the grim evidence of the "lynch law" that long terrorized African Americans. The state's historic enthusiasm for legal executions, which remains strong, bears the stain of racism as well. One measure of the problem is the frequency of national court [...]
Issue
Criminal Justice
Date
January 6, 2012
Author
Stephen Stetson