State Sen. April Weaver (R-Brierfield) seeks to prohibit Alabama inmates from participating in any program that trains dogs to recognize scents or track humans.
Weaver pre-filed Senate Bill 2 (SB2) after the shooting of two deputies in Bibb County.
In June 2022, Bibb County Deputies Brad Johnson and Chris Poole were shot in the line of duty by a recently released inmate and repeat felon, Austin Patrick Hall. Poole was discharged from the hospital soon after, but Johnson succumbed to his wounds the following day.
Hall had a long rap sheet, with multiple felony convictions and charges while in the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) custody. He received a 10-year sentence in 2018. Despite escaping a work-release program in 2019, he was released two months before the fatal shooting.
According to Weaver, Hall worked in a program where he worked with dogs trained to track human scents.
"Tracking dogs were brought in to track [Johnson's] killer, but they were unable to find the scent," Weaver told 1819 News. "So, being in the middle of the situation, several law enforcement officers that I spoke to indicated that the suspect had been involved in assisting with K-9 training while he was in ADOC custody, which gave him knowledge of how to elude these very well-trained dogs during this manhunt."
SB2 would flatly prohibit any inmate within the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) from participating in any programs that involve training dogs to recognize scents or track humans
"Situations like this, where a suspect has escaped and then has knowledge of how to elude tracking dogs, present a danger for our law enforcement officers and the public at large. It's a practice that needs to be stopped," Weaver concluded. "Common sense tells us that inmates will use every advantage they're given. Any prisoner that has the potential for escaping should not be given access to dogs that are trained to track them when they do."
Weaver was quick to introduce bills in relation to the shooting. Johnson and Poole are long-time family friends, so his death struck a deep chord for her and her family.
She also introduced SB1 to prohibit inmates like hall, with lengthy violations while incarcerated, from receiving time removed from their sentence for "good time."
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