Ala. Senate approves proposal to address prison overcrowding

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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.

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