That law will shift the burden of housing certain inmates from state prisons to county jails:
We asked Day if the commission had any idea of just what that change in policy would cost the county:
The Prison Reform Bill was signed by Governor Robert Bentley May 18th of this year – and the law is scheduled to go into effect after January 31st, 2016 – which doesn’t leave a lot of time for discussion:
The County Commission’s Budget Planning Process begins next Monday (July 13th).
We’ll be following this story as it continues to develop.
Posted below is a statement from DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris regarding the new law and how it will affect things there
Sheriff Jimmy Harris reports the Prison Reform bill (SB67) was signed by the Governor on Monday, May 18, 2015, and is now Act 2015-185. The new law that is called the prison reform law is set to go into effect January 31, 2016.
This law shifts the burden from the state prisons to the county jails. With this law you are going to see more and more ‘state’ inmates housed in the county jails and most of our county jails are operating above capacity now. These ‘state’ inmates are the ones with Class D felonies. A Class D felony would cover property crimes such as theft, fraud, illegal use of a debit/credit card, stolen property ranging from $500 to $1500 in value, and possession of small amounts of marijuana. The maximum sentence for a Class D conviction is five years.
The Sheriff will have the authority to refuse taking Class D inmates. Senator Ward said “what we wanted to do was reserve space for the most serious offenders, those found guilty of murder, rape, and child molestation. The alternative sentencing is for non-violent offenders, where we have a chance to modify their behavior so they won’t remain in the state corrections system and put a burden on that system for years and years.”
Sheriff Harris states “this is going to be a burden on the county jails. The majority of people who will be convicted of Class Ds are people that are on drugs. These people are not going to stop breaking into houses or vehicles because this is how they get their money to pay for drugs. The primary responsibility of the DeKalb County Sheriff‘s Office and of all Law Enforcement Officers is the safety and security of the citizens of DeKalb County. If a judge tells me someone needs to be off the streets or issues an order to revoke someone’s probation, we are going to arrest them.
Senator Ward states that the Sheriff has the authority to refuse anyone from coming to the county jail, but as a Sheriff our responsibility is to keep them locked up until they go to state prison. So what this means is if someone breaks in to 5 or more houses, is a meth producer or drug dealer it will be the county citizens that will have to pay for housing them.
We receive $1.75 a day per inmate that has been sentenced to go to prison. I am already housing over 28 state prisoners in the county jail now. Some of them have been here for 2 years. This bill is going to take money from every office or department in the county to pay for their medical bills, mental problems, or just daily care of them.
I totally opposed this bill and so did every Sheriff in the state of Alabama.
The Sheriff’s Association and County Commission Association stood side by side in fighting this bill and no one in Montgomery listened. For the past 8 years we have been housing ICE and Marshal Inmates for $48.00 a day. This money went straight to the county commission general fund. The $48.00 a day has brought in millions of dollars in the past 8 years. When we fill the DeKalb County Detention Center with these Class D felons there will be no room for ICE or Marshal Inmates.”