Over 400 inmates have been granted early release from Alabama prisons, with more to come thanks to a 2021 bill sponsored by State Rep. Jim Hill (R-Moody).
While other lawmakers and law enforcement officials have heavily criticized the mass early release of prisoners, Hill, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, still sees it as a net positive for public safety.
"When [a prisoner's] sentence ends, when it's over, when you've served the entirety of your sentence, you are released," Hill said on Tuesday's episode of "Capital Journal." "You walk out the jail with no supervision, no monitoring, no check-in time, no drug monitoring — anything that would keep you in a supervisory type of setting for a period of time."
"So if you end your sentence in prison, when you walk out that door, you have absolutely no strings on you whatsoever," he continued. "I did not think that's good public safety, and I don't think — well, obviously, the majority of the House and the Senate didn't think that was good public safety as far back as 2015. So in 2021, what we did was simply make it retroactive."
Hill emphasized the bill's requirement for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to electronically monitor inmates on early release, which serves as a de facto parole period.
"The Legislature appropriated $800,000 to do that. Is that going to be enough? I don't know," Hill said. "We'll have to get with Commissioner [Cam] Ward. If he needs more, I'm for giving him more. I'm for the electronic monitoring."
Hill said much of the negative attention the early release program has received has been overblown.
"I think there was some hype to it. There were some problems, I think, some issues with [victim] notifications, and that is unfortunate," he said. "But it does not in any way change the fact that they were going to be released within that short period of time, and monitoring them prior to them being released is a safe and sensible, reasonable approach to take."
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