MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Nearly 100 Alabama inmates are heading home from prison Tuesday as part of a 2021 state law. They’re the first group of about 400 total who will be getting out over the coming months.
Inmates who didn’t have a ride home this morning were dropped off by the Alabama Department of Corrections at bus stations across the state, with a ticket home and an ankle monitor.
That includes Shane Routledge, who we spoke with at a bus station in downtown Birmingham.
“I’ve been looking forward to getting out and being able to get back into society,” Routledge said.
Routledge was scheduled for release in September but is looking to start anew, now.
“Employment first, then just trying to get my life back on track,” he said.
He’s one of the 92 out Tuesday, mostly for drug offenses or crimes for which victims have been notified.
Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Cam Ward says each person has a “home plan” and is being closely monitored.
“We’re going to know. If you violate the terms, we have an electronic monitor, we know where you are the whole time,” Ward said.
Ward says those released have anywhere from about two weeks to 10 months left on their sentences.
“One way or the other, they’re getting out. I think I want supervision over them. That being said, at the end of the day we don’t have a position one way or the other on the law,” Ward said.
Those out now are part of a larger group of inmates whose release a judge has ordered be delayed until the Alabama Department of Corrections notifies victims.
Attorney General Steve Marshall said as of Friday, ADOC had contacted fewer than 20 victims. He said he hasn’t heard that that number has changed.
“I’ve seen victims literally shaking just out of the fear of somebody being released that committed a violent criminal act against their family. So it’s traumatic, and we know that it impacts them in a very profound way. They have a right to know long before that individual is being released so they can make their own preparations — physically, emotionally, whatever it may be,” Marshall said.
Marshall says considering the state’s 31% recidivism rate, he’s concerned about what will happen once all eligible inmates under this law are released over the coming months.
He says he hopes the monitoring works but says this is ultimately an experiment.
This law initially was passed during a 2021 special legislative session that the Governor called to address prison reform.