Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Push for Legislative Bills in Alabama

Representative Chris England leads the charge for reform in the upcoming legislative session

Advocates for criminal justice reform in Alabama are gearing up for February’s scheduled legislative session, with a particular focus on pushing several bills aimed at bringing about much-needed changes. Spearheading this effort is Representative Chris England, a Democrat from Tuscaloosa, who is determined to generate momentum for these bills, many of which have previously stalled in the assembly. One of the key proposals, HB 30, aims to establish a state council responsible for developing standards to guide the decision-making processes of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Addressing the need for oversight and transparency

England’s motivation for proposing HB 30 stems from his belief that the Board of Pardons and Paroles requires oversight and accountability. Recognizing the shortcomings and inefficiencies within the current system, he emphasizes the importance of establishing guidelines for the board to follow. England states, “Our system is struggling, and one way to address this is by implementing guidelines for the Board to adhere to. If someone is denied parole, they should at least be provided with an explanation.”

The role of the Criminal Justice Policy Development Council

HB 30 seeks to create a Criminal Justice Policy Development Council tasked with formulating criteria for risk and needs assessments for parole applicants, as well as guidelines for parole and classification of incarcerated individuals seeking parole. The council would comprise a diverse range of stakeholders, including law enforcement personnel, elected officials, and party leaders from both chambers of the legislature. By involving various perspectives, the council aims to develop comprehensive and fair guidelines that can effectively guide the parole decision-making process.

Ensuring adherence to guidelines and avenues for appeal

Under HB 30, the Board of Pardons and Paroles would be required to adhere to the guidelines established by the policy council. However, the legislation also recognizes the board’s authority to deny parole, as long as they provide a clear explanation for their decision. This provision seeks to strike a balance between accountability and the board’s discretion in parole decisions.

Additionally, the proposed legislation would allow individuals who have been denied parole to appeal the board’s decision to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. This avenue for appeal aims to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to challenge decisions they believe to be unfair or unjust.


As the legislative session approaches, criminal justice reform advocates in Alabama are preparing to push for much-needed changes. Representative Chris England’s proposed bill, HB 30, offers a comprehensive approach to reform by establishing a Criminal Justice Policy Development Council and providing guidelines for the Board of Pardons and Paroles. By incorporating oversight, transparency, and avenues for appeal, these proposed reforms aim to address the shortcomings of the current system and ensure a fair and just criminal justice process in Alabama.

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