Alabama arrests down but prisons still overcrowded

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A group studying overcrowding in Alabama’s prisons has found that arrests are declining and sentences are getting shorter. But Alabama’s prisons remain at nearly double their designed capacity.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center presented the statistics to the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force.

Research manager Andrew Barbee says felony arrests declined about 21 percent from 2009 to 2013. New state sentencing guidelines that took effect in October 2013 are resulting in shorter sentences for many non-violent crimes. But prison overcrowding remains, in part, because the rate of inmates being paroled has dropped from 42 percent of those eligible in fiscal 2009 to 36 percent in fiscal 2013.

The task force is looking for changes that will keep the federal government from suing Alabama over prison conditions.

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