Entries by Frank Knaack

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Alabama’s Marijuana Laws are Costly to Enforce, Undermine Public Safety and Disproportionately Harm African Americans

Marijuana prohibition costs the state and its municipalities an estimated $22 million a year, creates a dangerous backlog at the agency that tests forensic evidence in violent crimes, and needlessly ensnares thousands of people – disproportionately African Americans – in the criminal justice system, according to a report released today by Alabama Appleseed Center for […]

Groups Call for Investigation Into Potential Violations of Federal Law by Alabama Sheriffs with Federal Detention Contracts who Convert Jail Food Funds to Personal Use

In a letter sent yesterday to the United States Attorneys for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Adelante Alabama Worker Center, the American Conservative Union, and FreedomWorks urged an investigation into Alabama sheriffs with federal detention contracts who have personally […]

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Pro Bono Month: Standing Up for Greater Access to Justice

October marks Pro Bono Month, in which Alabama celebrates the difference made by pro bono lawyers throughout the state who serve our communities by providing free civil legal aid to those in need. These volunteer lawyers–along with lawyers from Legal Services Alabama and clinics–help level the playing field and expand access to justice for low-income […]

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New Report: Fines and Fees Hurt People, Drive Alabama’s Racial Wealth Divide, and Make Alabamians Less Safe

A new report finds that many Alabamians report sacrificing food, medicine, and other basic necessities — and in some cases, resorting to crime — to pay down unnecessarily burdensome court costs, fines, and fees. More than eight in ten Alabamians gave up necessities like food and medicine to pay down court costs, fines, fees, or restitution. Nearly four in ten committed […]

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Alabama Appleseed Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Case Arguing the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause Should Rein In Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses

On Tuesday, Alabama Appleseed joined a diverse set of twelve organizations asking the U.S. Supreme Court to find that the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applies to the states. The case is Timbs v. Indiana. Mr. Timbs was arrested during an undercover drug enforcement operation, pled guilty, paid approximately $1,200 in fees, and was sentenced […]

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Civil Rights Groups Applaud Governor Ivey’s Action to Stop Sheriffs from Personally Profiting from Taxpayer Funded Jail Food Money

In response to Governor Kay Ivey’s announcement today that the Alabama Comptroller will now require sheriffs to sign an affidavit swearing that they will use jail food money for jail food, the Southern Center for Human Rights and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice have released the following statements: The following statement can be […]

Dr. Wayne Flynt to Receive Alabama Appleseed’s 2018 Brewer/Torbert Public Service Award

Dr. Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University, will receive the 2018 Brewer/Torbert Public Service Award. First awarded in 2006, the award is given annually by Alabama Appleseed to an individual in Alabama who has demonstrated a substantial commitment to public service and the improvement of the lives of Alabamians. […]

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Governor Kay Ivey’s Memos Do Not Yet Prevent Alabama Sheriffs From Pocketing Jail Food Funds

In two memos sent yesterday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced that sheriffs may no longer personally profit from a very small portion of jail food funds: those state funds allocated for services in preparing and serving food to people in their jails. Contrary to media reports, these memos do not yet fully fix the problem […]

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Civil Legal Aid Funding is Not an Expense, it’s an Investment

by Phil Ensler, Policy Counsel  Victims of domestic violence, tenants facing eviction, and veterans seeking their benefits are among the thousands of low-income Alabamians who receive free legal assistance from civil legal aid attorneys because they cannot afford to hire their own attorneys. Despite the essential need for these services, Alabama is one of only […]

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“How is this not illegal?”

by Leah Nelson, researcher and Dana Sweeney, organizer Payday industry supporters have often claimed that “neither the general public nor the so called ‘poor’ [are] clamoring” for payday lending reform in Alabama. Actual borrowers might beg to differ. Between October 2016 and September 2017, the State Banking Department reported that nearly 215,000 Alabamians took out […]