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No parole for 90% of Alabama inmates

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Alabama’s parole system has reportedly hit a new low. The three-member board granted parole to just over four hundred inmates while denying well over three thousand more. The board last week denied parole to a seventy one-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair and is in end-stage kidney failure. Critics of the decline say the board is not following its guidelines on who should win parole and denial has become the default decision. Alabama's attorney general defended the low parole rate, saying "the paramount duty of the board is to ensure public safety."

Agency reports say the rate of state inmates being granted parole in Alabama has plummeted to a new low, with 90% of eligible inmates being rejected last fiscal year. Critics of the decline say the board is not following its guidelines and denial has become the default decision.

The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles says the three-member board granted parole to just over four hundred inmates and turned down over thirty five hundred others in the fiscal year that ended last September. The grant rate of ten percent is a fraction of what it had been in previous years and comes after four straight years of decline. The rate was 31% in fiscal year 2019, before falling to 20% in 2020 and then 15% in 2021.

The legal nonprofit Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice says the state is creating "conditions for combustion" within prisons that the U.S. Department of Justice has said are already among the most violent in the country.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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