Ala. Senate approves proposal to address prison overcrowding

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The Alabama Senate has approved sweeping changes to sentencing and probation standards to try relieving overcrowding in state prisons.

State Senators approved the bill Thursday by a 31-2 vote.

Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says a state prison crisis is at a “boiling point.” Alabama prisons house nearly twice the number of inmates they were originally designed to hold. Ward said the state must either make changes or risk a court-ordered release of inmates.

The legislation is the product of a year of work by a state prison reform task force. Among the changes, the proposal creates a new Class D felony level to try keeping low-level drug and property offenders out of prison.

The bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.