The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles announced Thursday it was beginning preparations to implement a new statewide electronic monitoring program which, according to a press release, will be capable of monitoring "up to 4,000 people per year" starting in January.

A law sponsored by State Rep. Jim Hill (R-Odenville), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, passed by the Alabama Legislature during a special session in 2021, statutorily requires a certain population of participants on parole to be electronically monitored. The length of time is determined by the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles director Cam Ward.

Critics of Alabama's criminal justice system have questioned the system regarding how convicted criminals out of prison under conditional release have been monitored in recent years based on several high-profile law enforcement officer deaths.

Bibb County deputy Brad Johnson died of a gunshot wound last month, allegedly at the hands of repeat felon Austin Patrick Hall. Some have questioned why Hall was released from prison in the first place.

Another example includes Brian Lansing Martin, a man accused of killing Sheffield Police Department Sgt. Nick Risner in 2021. He pled guilty in 2013 to the 2011 murder of his father and received a 10-year sentence. However, he was released from prison in 2016 after receiving credit for so-called "good time."

Although this new system may not have prevented those deaths, Ward recently said it could be a prevention tool.

According to the Bureau, the new system will base the intensity of the monitoring on the risk of the individual, with high-risk individuals likely to receive "longer, more intense monitoring" and intensity decreasing by risk level.

The initial number of those monitored will start at 400, and will increase to 4,000 over time, based on risk assessment.

According to Ward, electronic monitoring is an effective tool used to reduce recidivism.

"Public safety is the number one priority of the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles," Ward said in a statement. "This tool will greatly assist us in monitoring those on probation and parole on a 24-hour basis."

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