92 inmates freed across Alabama as Prison Reform Act of 2021 goes into effect

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AS TO) – Nearly 100 Alabama inmates are returning from prison Tuesday under a 2021 state law. They are the first group of about 400 people in total to be released in the next few months.

Inmates who were unable to return home this morning were dropped off by the Alabama Department of Corrections at bus stations across the state, along with a return ticket and an ankle monitor.

This includes Shane Routledge, who we spoke to at a Birmingham city center bus station.

“I was looking forward to getting out and being able to reintegrate into society,” Routledge said.

Routledge was due out in September but is looking to do it again now.

“Job first, then just trying to get my life back on track,” he said.

He is among 92 released on Tuesday, mostly for drug-related offenses or crimes for which victims have been notified.

Alabama Office of Pardons and Parole Director Cam Ward said each person had a “house plan” and was closely monitored.

“We will find out. If you break the terms, we have an electronic monitor, we know where you are all the time,” Ward said.

Ward says those released still have between two weeks and 10 months of sentence.

“One way or another, they come out. I think I want supervision over them. That being said, at the end of the day, we don’t have a position one way or the other on the law,” Ward said.

Those who have now been released are part of a larger group of inmates whose release has been delayed by a judge until the Alabama Department of Corrections notifies the victims.

Attorney General Steve Marshall said Friday that ADOC had contacted fewer than 20 victims. He said he hadn’t heard that number had changed.

“I have seen victims literally tremble just in fear that someone will be released who has committed a violent criminal act against their family. So it’s traumatic, and we know it affects them deeply. They have a right to know long before this individual is released so they can make their own preparations – physically, emotionally, whatever it is,” Marshall said.

Marshall says that given the state’s 31% recidivism rate, he’s worried about what will happen once all eligible inmates under this law are released in the next few months.

He says he hopes the surveillance will work, but says it’s ultimately an experiment.

This law was originally passed in a 2021 special legislative session that the governor called to address prison reform.


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