HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Several North Alabama organizations are calling on Governor Kay Ivey, the state legislature and local governments to address issues in Alabama’s current prison system. The groups believe decriminalizing marijuana would help relieve overcrowded prisons.
The call to action comes after president Joe Biden recently took action to pardon federal marijuana offenses.
“This is now an opportunity for Alabama to say ‘hey, we have an example. Let’s move forward. Let’s take this opportunity and stand in solidarity,'” says Huntsville Bail Fund President Tahirih Osborne.
10 community groups signed an open letter sent to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama’s legislative leaders titled “demanding action on Alabama’s drug-fueled prison crisis.”
“This letter is very simple. We do not need to be locking people up for a plant. That is really what it says,” says Osborne.
The letter calls on the governor, legislature, and local governments to take up the following items:
1) Immediate pardon of all marijuana possession convictions in the state
2) Repeal of Ala. Code § 13A-12-213 and Ala. Code § 13A-12-214 governing unlawful possession of marijuana
3) Implementation of summons and release ordinances across the state to the maximum extent outlined under Ala. Code § 11-45-9.1
4) Parole board and sentencing reforms as outlined by Alabama’s striking prisoners
“Our prisons are stuffed far beyond capacity, ADOC currently sits at about 150 percent capacity.. and prisons that are crumbling apart. so the faster we are getting people out of prison who don’t need to be there in the first place the more we are taking that pressure off,” says Osborne.
Osborne says she’s hopeful to see action on both the state and local level
“I would love to see an expanded cite and release campaign here in Huntsville. I think under state law under the new state statute we have the ability to let people go with simply a ticket when they are stopped and found with marijuana,” says Osborne.
The groups that signed the letter include Black Lives Matter-Huntsville, Citizens Coalition for Justice Reform, Huntsville Bail Fund, North Alabama DSA, North Alabama Peace Network, North Alabama School for Organizers, North Alabama Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Project Say Something, Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, and United Women of Color.