Prison study group looks at programs to reduce Alabama prison population


By Lydia Nusbaum, WSFA

The Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice policy met Friday to learn about diversion programs meant to help inmates avoid serving in prison.

Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded and understaffed. The group’s goal is to find solutions to the problem, which could result in proposed legislation.

They discussed pretrial intervention and diversion programs which provide people with counseling and resources to help them avoid re-offending.

Members on the panel praised the changes these programs have made in people’s lives. However, some lawmakers thought the cost for programs could be a barrier.

Several judges said it could cost hundreds of dollars for someone to enter a program, pay for monitors, and pay for drug tests. Local governments pay for much of these programs.

This led Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, to question whether the state should put more money towards the programs.

These meetings come after the Department of Justice released a scathing report outlining the violence in Alabama’s male prisons.