Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein | 7/27/2022
In states like Alabama, almost every interaction a person has with the criminal justice system comes with a financial cost. If you’re assigned to a pretrial program to reduce your sentence, each class attended incurs a fee. If you’re on probation, you’ll pay a fee to take your mandatory urine test. If you appear in drug court, you will face more fees, sometimes dozens of times a year. Often, you don’t even have to break the law; you’ll pay fees to pull a public record or apply for a permit. For poor people, this system is a trap, sucking them into a cycle of sometimes unpayable debt that constrains their lives and almost guarantees financial hardship.
“Alabama wants totalitarianism,” said Leah Nelson of Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, “but they just don’t want to pay for it.”
6/30/2022 | Kim Chandler
Alabama officials said Thursday that they will move forward with plans to build two supersize prisons despite a bond sale falling more than $200 million short amid a volatile market and pressure from activists.
The Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority hoped to sell $725 million in bonds for the construction project, but was only able to sell $509 million. The bond issue is a key funding piece for the $1.2 billion construction price tag.
6/2022 | Mary Scott Hodgin
Ron McKeithen’s record included a conviction of third-degree burglary, plus two felonies for illegal possession and fraudulent use of a credit card.
Then he and a friend stole a few hundred dollars from a convenience store.
It was 1983, a few years after Alabama passed a new law that mandated longer sentences for people convicted of multiple felonies.
The Habitual Felony Offender Act helped quadruple Alabama’s prison population by the early 2000s, and it kept Ron McKeithen behind bars for nearly 40 years.
John Archibald | 4/7/2022
People make mistakes. They do.
They run stop signs, sometimes. They go too fast, or fail to use a blinker, or drive down the street with no idea their tag light is out, or too dim, or that anybody anywhere would actually care in the first place.
According to research by the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice – and others – people facing mounting traffic debt make desperate decisions in attempts to get their lives back. Eight out of 10 said they skipped rent, groceries, medical bills or car payments to pay their debt. Four out of 10 said they committed crimes – including selling their own bodies – just so they wouldn’t have to look in that rearview mirror all the time.