Huntsville attorney sheds light on Alabama’s parole officer shortage

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The 2020 Alabama General Fund will increase the state corrections budget by 40 million dollars. The money will allow for the hiring of new correctional officers and pay raises, but what about those who work with people who have been released from jail or prison?

Once inmates are released from jail on probation or paroled from prison they are assigned a parole or probation officer.

One legal expert says the decision to give someone probation or parole is heavily based on one concept.

"The nature of the crime is what the board of pardons and paroles in most states consider. The fact of whether or not the person can be rehabilitated or not outside the prison system," said attorney Mark McDaniel.

McDaniel said probation and parole officers sometimes get the short end of the stick.

"Parole officers are extremely overworked. I can't emphasize I mean we talked about corrections officers. How few of them there are versus how many people are in prison. It's more critical for parole officers, probation, and parole officers," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said there's a shortage in this state. Sometimes one parole officer is responsible for keeping up with thousands of cases.

"You say, well, why didn't they go check on where this guy was living? They've barely got enough time to even go through the files for new cases they're getting, much less the people that are on parole," said McDaniel.

McDaniel, who has argued numerous criminal cases, said many times the state is trying to free up space.

"There is such an overcrowded situation in all states, in Federal and State Penitentiaries, that the board of pardons and paroles, again, are looking for ways to let people out," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said there's no way to have flawless operations if employees are being crushed by their workload.

"The system is designed to work, but you gotta have the manpower for it to work," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said he hopes some of the 40 million goes to finding more probation and parole officers.

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