Alabama task force hears ideas on prison overcrowding

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COLUMBIANA, Ala. (AP) – Recommendations to decrease overcrowding in state prisons include hiring more probation officers and creating a new felony class for low-level offenses.

The Alabama Prison Reform Task Force heard a slate of recommendations Thursday from the Council of State Governments.

Andy Barbee from the group estimated that the proposed changes would reduce the prison population from nearly 200 percent to 162 percent of designed capacity by 2021.

Alternatively, he said the state would have to add 6,000 prison beds to bring crowding down to 130 percent. That’s a level courts have found acceptable.

Barbee said that construction would cost the state an estimated $420 million.

Task Force Chairman Cam Ward said the state will have a need a combination of changes as well as new prisons.

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