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January 18, 2006

Alabama sentencing reform moving forward

As detailed in articles here and here, the "Alabama House passed eight bills Tuesday in a package supported by Gov. Bob Riley to reform Alabama's sentencing procedures and help ease overcrowding in state prisons."  A basic list of the reforms in these bills is available here.  The Alabama Sentencing Commission, which recommended these bills, has a lot more details about these reforms at this webpage and in this legislative pamphlet.

One bill provides for the adoption of voluntary sentencing guidelines.  Here is how the Alabama Sentencing Commission describes the bill in its legislative pamphlet:

In compliance with the directives included in the Sentencing Reform Act of 2003, this bill proposes adoption of voluntary sentencing standards for 26 felony offenses. These sentencing recommendations are historically based voluntary, non-appealable sentence recommendations developed for personal, property and drug crimes, representing 87% of all felony convictions and sentences imposed in Alabama over a five year period.  The recommended sentence ranges and dispositions for the covered offenses are in lieu of the wider ranges under existing statutory law and provide uniform sentencing recommendations for trial court judges in sentencing convicted felons. These standards, which are voluntary, address both the length of sentences and the disposition of the offender (probation, intermediate alternative or prison).

Notably, proposals for the adoption of voluntary guidelines have been making the rounds for a few year, but Alabama prison overcrowding crisis seems to have finally pushed the reform forward.  A few months ago, a state Task Force on Prison Crowding released this report which suggested enactment of these guidelines was key to dealing with the prison overcrowding problem.

January 18, 2006 at 06:19 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The actual guidelines are found at:
http://sentencingcommission.alacourt.gov/Publications/SentencingStandards_9.30.2005.pdf

Just to kick the tires, I considered the sentence for someone being sentenced for distributing a reasonably large quantity of marijuana under teh Alabama guidelines, while in possession of a firearm, the same facts as the Utah case where a man was sentenced to 55 years in prison by a federal judge under the U.S. sentencing guidelines. The Alabama guidelines would recommend at 13 to 65 month (i.e. 1-5 year) sentence to be split amongst the various charges. Notably, the guidelines do not make a strong distinction based on the exact quantity of drugs sold.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jan 18, 2006 5:56:52 PM

Correction: I said USSG when I meant mandatory minimums.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jan 18, 2006 5:57:47 PM

I AM TRYING TO FIND OUT ABOUT ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING. MY HUSBAND IS CURRENTLY INCARCERATED IN ORANGE COUNTY, CA. I HAVE MOVED TO PHENIX CITY, AL AND I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A PROGRAM THAT WOULD ALLOW HIM TO BE MOVED INTO A COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS PROGRAM OR A RESIDENTIAL RE-ENTRY CENTER HERE IN ALABAMA OR GEORGIA. THE CASE DOESN'T INVOLVE ANY VIOLENT CRIMES. HE HAS A FAIRLY LONG ARREST RECORD, HE WAS DISCHARGED FROM PAROLE FEB. 2007 BUT WAS CONTINUED ON PROBATION. IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE ME OR MAYBE EVEN POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?? THANK YOU.

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 10:22:24 PM

My son had his probation revoked after failing to report for an appointment,becaue he had a dirty urine (marijuanna) moving two houses up the street without notification to his probation officer. He was arrested in December 2009, and stayed in the Elmore Co. Jail until April 2010. He was then sentenced to a rehab support center to remain until October 2010. One of the county DA's lives across the street and developed an instant dis-like for my son. When questioned by his Probation Officer, Nicole Watkins, I told her that my son had moved out of the house for two days before giving notification. My son told her the same thing but the PO took the word of the DA, Brad Eckdohl. Mr. Eckdohl vowed to neighbors that my son was a drug dealer (not true), a user but not a dealer. Would the new probation reform apply to my son? I don't believe that it does but my son has a differing opinion. My son has a felony as a youthful offender and was charged with a Class C felony for a small finger joint. I know that he is a victim of malicious prosecution. Could you please e-mail me with your answer? Thank you in advance.

Posted by: Connie Freeman | Jul 14, 2010 3:32:09 PM

I am a citizen of Elmore County for 30 years. I know that my son did break the law and I am not complaining about that. I am 63 years old, retired from a Civil Service job and a voting and law abiding citizen. I wrote the previous comment about the new probation reform law.

Posted by: Connie Freeman | Jul 14, 2010 3:35:25 PM

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Posted by: platinum jewelry | Feb 4, 2011 10:35:03 AM

In compliance with the directives included in the Sentencing Reform Act of 2003, this bill proposes adoption of voluntary sentencing standards for 26 felony offenses. These sentencing recommendations are historically based voluntary, non-appealable sentence recommendations developed for personal, property and drug crimes, representing 87% of all felony convictions and sentences imposed in Alabama over a five year period.

Posted by: mbt | Feb 13, 2011 6:05:59 AM

Part of the problem, according to the coalition’s report, is that Alabama sends lots of nonviolent, low-level drug and property offenders to prison and keeps them there. When they are released, many don’t get help rebuilding their lives, so they quickly return to crime, ending up behind bars again and costing the state even more money.

Posted by: Switzer Super Report | Nov 16, 2011 8:10:41 AM

Despite concerns over racial disparities in imprisonment, little empirical attention has been paid to how changing the structure of sentencing might affect levels of disparity.

Posted by: Switzer | Dec 21, 2011 12:30:02 AM

This is something that the local government of Alabama must have to have an eye. This could be very sensitive matter that they might get neglected with.

Posted by: Heating Cooling Indiana | Dec 21, 2011 8:52:08 PM

Does the state have sentencing guidelines? If yes, are the sentencing guidelines voluntary/advisory or mandatory?

Posted by: Analytics Case Study | Dec 29, 2011 4:15:10 AM

We live in a society where quantification is prized, but rank-ordering everything has a steep price. What is lost is too often those things that are deep and challenging and meaningful, and we academics (critical thinkers that we are) need to take the lead in modeling a better way.

Posted by: Becoming a Freight Broker | Feb 14, 2012 12:37:02 AM

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