On November 6, JEFFERSON COUNTY WILL ELECT THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: District Attorney.

164%

capacity, which Alabama’s prisons were at in 2017.

1/2

of Alabama prisoners are serving a sentence of 20 years or more.

Alabama has a problem with incarceration. Today, over 28,000 people are in Alabama’s state-run prisons, which are operating at an astonishing 164 percent capacity, making it the most overcrowded prisons in the country.

But we didn’t get to this place by accident. It is the result of deliberate choices by generations of policymakers and elected officials. Lengthy sentencing practices, driven by legislators passing mandatory minimum sentencing laws and by prosecutors insisting on charging individuals with the maximum offenses, have meant that around half of Alabama’s prisoners have a 20-year sentence or more.

Our prison system has become unsustainable and expensive. In 2016, Alabama spent nearly half a billion dollars of its general fund on corrections.

As more people enter prison, stay longer, and aren’t released, these numbers will continue to climb.

Unless we take action now.

 

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Choose Your Own Adventure in the criminal justice system

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Hear how DA decisions affect everyday Alabamians

The Power of Prosecutors

What is a District Attorney?

A District Attorney (DA) is the chief prosecutor for a local government area in Alabama. DAs are responsible for presenting cases, directing criminal investigations, and setting policy that influences how the system works in a particular county.

DAs have used their power to pack jails and prisons. And it has taken decades, billions of dollars, and thousands of laws to turn the United States into the largest incarcerator in the world. But did you know that prosecutors also have the power to dismantle this machine — even without changing a single law?

 

Charging

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Once you’ve been arrested for an alleged criminal activity, DAs can decide to charge or not charge someone.

Jefferson County’s next DA can commit to:

  • Stop prosecuting for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana and for drug paraphernalia. Marijuana convictions disproportionately hurt communities of color, and uses up time and resources that could be spent on more serious crimes.

  • Decline to issue warrants for failure to appear to court until after checking that a person was properly notified and was not incarcerated on their court date.


Bail

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If you’re charged with a crime, DAs can decide to advocate for or against release while you are waiting for trial.

Jefferson County’s next DA can commit to:

  • Adopt a no-cash bail policy for misdemeanor offenses. More than 70 percent of people in Alabama county jails had not been convicted of a crime. The cash bail system unfairly punishes people who don’t have money for the precise reason that they don’t have money. Our justice system should not depend on how much money a person has.


Pleas and Sentencing

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The DA acts as a gatekeeper for diversion programs, which keep people out of prison, they can advocate for sentence length, and they can influence the amount of fines and fees a person has to pay. DAs can decide to seek as little or as much prison time as possible.

Jefferson County’s next DA can commit to:

  • DIVERSION - Apply an objective standard to determine eligibility for diversion programs so that no one is denied based on ability to pay. People with money can pay $650-1500 to stay out of prison and, if they complete the program successfully, can have their charges dismissed. Making justice dependent on whether someone can pay for it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

  • FINES AND FEES - Disclose revenue from all sources on an annual basis, avoid revenue streams through the court system, and advocate for the elimination of the current court debt system. Excessive fines and fees saddle people with debt that is difficult to pay off. Falling behind may mean additional fines for late payments or a warrant for arrest, creating a cycle that keeps people trapped in the system.


Racial Disparities

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Racial disparities plague our country’s criminal justice system. In 2015, although Black people made up only 44.1% of Jefferson County’s population, they accounted for nearly 70% of the jail population. But decarcerating Alabama will not on its own reduce racial disparities in the prison system. DAs can decide to support the communities they represent by being transparent and accountable.

Jefferson County’s next DA can commit to:

  • Make a plan to gather and share race-based data. With data on all charging, bail, sentencing, and plea bargaining recommendations made by the office, with demographic information included, we can better understand and identify what is causing the disparities and implement a plan to address it.

Candidates

Alabama DAs are elected to six year terms, with the next election set for 2022. This is a special election because former DA Todd Henderson was indicted of perjury in 2017. After that, Deputy DA Danny Carr was appointed by a Jefferson County circuit judge as a temporary replacement for Henderson. After Henderson was convicted, Governor Kay Ivey appointed the current DA Mike Anderton. Both Anderton and Carr are now candidates up for election on November 6, Carr as a Democrat and Anderton as a Republican.

 
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Mike Anderton (R)

Campaign Website: https://www.andertonforda.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndertonForDA/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/andertonforda

Questionnaire: No response

 

Election Dates

September 7, 2018

Last day to apply for voting rights restoration. 

  • A new law passed in 2017 defined a list of 46 crimes that result in loss of voting rights. If you have not been convicted of one of these crimes, then you do not need restoration because you are still eligible to vote. Learn more about voting rights restoration, who needs it, and how to apply at aclualabama.org/voting-rights-restoration

October 22, 2018

Last day to register for general election. 

November 1, 2018

Last day to apply for an absentee ballot.

  • Find out what circumstances qualify you to vote absentee at alabamavotes.gov. This includes being out of the county, being sick, having a disability that prevents you from travelling to your polling place and/or having a polling place that is not accessible. 
  • Mail or hand deliver your application to your county Absentee Manager by November 5.
  • You can also complete your absentee ballot in person if you will be out of the county on Election Day.

November 6, 2018

ELECTION DAY

  • Polls are open from 7am-7pm. If you are in line when the polls close, stay in line. You have the right to vote.  
  • Look up your polling place before you go. Visit alabamavotes.gov or call the Secretary of State at 1-800-274-8683 for assistance. 
  • CALL 334-420-1748. If you have a complaint about voting on Election Day, call our hotline to leave a message or submit a comment online. This is not intended to offer assistance or legal advice. 
 

Join Us

The ACLU of Alabama advocates for a criminal justice reform dedicated to rehabilitation and restoration that will support public safety, instead of increasing the number of people in jail and in prison. 

We work to ensure that constitutional rights apply to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. We also challenge broken criminal justice systems, confront inadequate prison conditions, and advocate for drug policy reform. 

A fairer criminal justice system begins with our votes and our voices. Join our Facebook Group to be a part of the discussion on criminal justice reform in Alabama.

 
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