Projects: Redefining Community Supervision in Alabama
Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections is working to help Alabama officials meet their goals of reducing the prison population and controlling corrections costs, while ensuring public safety.
In partnership with the Alabama Sentencing Commission, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and other state and local stakeholders, Vera staff are providing technical assistance to the Cooperative Community Alternative Sentencing Project (CCASP). That project is helping policymakers develop community-based sentencing options to be used instead of jail or prison for low-risk offenders. The work, funded by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, involves the following:
Steering committees at the state and local levels, made up of key criminal justice stakeholders, including judges, prosecutors, institutional and community corrections officials, community and faith-based groups, and local treatment providers, are working together to examine the system as a whole and make it more efficient.
Vera staff are helping these stakeholders create strategic plans that articulate their mission and objectives, prioritize their goals, establish benchmarks, and learn from best practices in other jurisdictions.
Data collection and analysis at the local level are the foundation of the project. Staff work with local officials to analyze data about each jurisdiction’s corrections population and criminal justice system. The findings guide the reform process and help focus efforts on each jurisdiction’s specific needs.
Reserving prison for serious offenders
Nearly 1 in 45 adults in the United States are under probation or parole supervision, or serving some other sentence in the community. That rate is increasing as states seek to reduce the prison population by sentencing people convicted of low-level offenses to alternative sanctions such as drug treatment or community service. In Alabama, officials want to divert nonviolent offenders to such programs so they can reserve prison for people who have committed serious violent crimes. This will help them meet truth-in-sentencing standards that require serious offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. To free up space in prisons for those serious offenders, however, policy makers must first develop community-based sanctions that can deal with low-level offenders safely and appropriately.
For more information, contact Alison Shames.