Follow the coverage of Alabama Appleseed’s work, news mentions and opinion editorials written by staff members. Interested in speaking with Alabama Appleseed? Please email Executive Director Carla Crowder for an interview.
What researchers at Alabama Appleseed found was that most people in those programs are poor, making less than $14,999 a year, and paid a median of $1,600 for those diversion programs, or more than 10 percent of their income.
Tom Gordon | 2/17/2020
In a state where overcrowded, violence-racked prisons have been a longstanding issue, there are alternatives to prison — diversion is the common umbrella term — that are supposed to keep some offenders out of the system and give them help they need to stay out. These diversions take the form of entities such as drug courts, veterans courts and community corrections.
“The need for diversion reform was a subject that came up last year during meetings of the Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy. Leah Nelson, Alabama Appleseed’s research director, spoke at a session in December about the just-released Appleseed Report and the burdens that diversion program participants face.
“What we’ve learned is that these programs are too expensive for poor people who lack wealth to participate in them without making outrageous sacrifices,” Nelson said in her statement to the study group. “They are not designed to accommodate the everyday realities of folks who have jobs, children, or other obligations.”
Amy Yurkanin | 2/10/2020
Diversion programs designed as therapeutic alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders often saddle participants with fees that push some into poverty, according to a new report from the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.
“Gov. Ivey’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy has diversion on their radar and has expressed concerns about the ‘pay-to-play’ nature of the current system,” said Carla Crowder, executive director of Alabama Appleseed. “This is encouraging. Our hope is that the Legislature will closely examine which diversion programs are truly working and which are used to boost the budgets of agencies operating them. The questionable programs don’t need more money, whether it comes from the poorest Alabamians or the Legislature.”
Melissa Brown | 2/11/2020
A patchwork system of programs designed to keep people out of prison disproportionately burdens low-income Alabamians, legal advocacy Alabama Appleseed found in a statewide study.
Appleseed examined diversion programs across the state and interviewed more than 1,000 participants in its newly released “In Trouble” report, which ultimately recommends state lawmakers establish uniform, statewide standards for programs that vary widely county to county.
“We hope this report will provide a road map for tackling some really tough issues in a smarter way. We hear so much about the opioid crisis, and it is real and it devastates family and communities. We hear so much about the horrors and the violence in our prisons,” said Appleseed Executive Director Carla Crowder. “If more people could be treated outside of prison for substance use issues, we could find a way to make these opportunities work for the people who need them most. It could make a difference in two huge and sometimes seemingly overwhelming issues in this state.”