97 inmates released this morning from Alabama prisons

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 7:29 PM EST
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ALABAMA (WTVM) - More than 400 inmates in Alabama were set to be released early today.

However, following a legal challenge by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, fewer than 100 are now out of prison on supervised release.

The inmates are being released due to a legislative bill passed in 2021. The goal is to release inmates up to a year early with an electronic monitoring device.

However, the Attorney General’s Office challenged the release in court.

A bill created in 2015 - and later amended in 2021 - called for certain prisoners within one year of finishing their sentence be released early. Inmates serving life sentences and those convicted of child sex crimes are not eligible.

“The legislature mandated that those people be released, and that pardon and parole will supervise them with electronic monitoring as well as our officers like anyone else on parole,” said Director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Cam Ward.

However, according to the Director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Cam Ward, the Department of Corrections is required to provide notice to the victims’ families prior to the release. A legal challenge by the Attorney General’s Office was dismissed... but the Department of Corrections did announce it would only release 97 inmates instead of 408.

Ward said majority of the released inmates were set to end their sentences this year or within the next few months. He says all inmates are equipped with an electronic monitoring device. Additionally, in-person checks will be conducted on each inmate.

“That could be daily, that could be weekly that could be monthly again it depends on your risk assessment level,” said Ward.

The eligibility is determined by the inmate’s sentence, for example, if an inmate is sentenced to five years but less than 10 years - they must be released between 6 to 9 months before their sentence ends.

Previously, inmates serving a full term would be released from prison with no supervision. However, Ward is aware there are critics of the early release dates.

“There is always going to be a concern. I will say the bureau of pardons and parole is going to do everything we can with our law enforcement officers who are all law enforcement trained that we properly monitor these folks,” said Ward.