The Judge’s Case for Criminal Justice Reform, Redux
With state prisons stuffed beyond capacity and no signs of any slowdown in the volume of drug and theft cases that fill court dockets, Alabama’s judges are being asked to rethink the sentences they issue.
The message came last week as all Alabama judges with power to sentence prisoners were invited by Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb to a three-day meeting in Montgomery. Cobb wants to find ways to reduce jail overcrowding and still enforce Alabama’s laws in the face of significant state budget problems.
She has said Alabama’s prisons are operating at 195 percent of capacity … . Alabama has the nation’s sixth highest incarceration rate; state prison costs quadrupled in 20 years to $577 million a year in 2008, and half of all new inmates in the system in 2009 were imprisoned for drug offenses, according to the chief justice.
I had previously noted Sue Bell Cobb’s interest in criminal justice reform a few months ago, here.