Alabama tries to stave off federal prison intervention

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama prisons were built to hold 13,000 inmates. They house over 25,000.

That makes Alabama prisons among the most crowded in the nation and one that state politicians fear will put the state in danger of federal intervention.

Alabama lawmakers, in an effort to relieve crowding, this spring approved changes to sentencing and probation standards as well as a bond issue for additional prison beds. The changes include the creation of a lower level felony class and the planned hiring of 100 probation officers.

Republican Sen. Cam Ward, who headed a state prison reform task force, said doing nothing was not an option.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, a group often at odds with the state over prison policies, praised the state’s efforts as a good first step.

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