Alabama 1 of 2 states still segregating HIV+ prisoners

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HB519 on Senate Judiciary Calendar TODAY @ 11:30!

Time to call these Senators and encourage their support of HB519!

HB519, the bill to permanently establish the Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System, passed the House on March 11th and is now on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s calendar today at 11:30.  CALL NOW!

Please call the following Senators (Judiciary Committee Members) to encourage their support of HB519:

1. SENATOR MYRON C. PENN (Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon, Russell): (334) 242-7868

2. SENATOR ROGER H. BEDFORD, JR. (Colbert, Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion, Winston):           (334) 242-7862

3. SENATOR KIM S. BENEFIELD (Chambers, Cherokee, Clay,Cleburne, Lee, Randolph): (334) 242-7874

4. SENATOR BEN BROOKS (Mobile): (334) 242-7882

5. SENATOR VIVIAN DAVIS FIGURES (Mobile): (334) 242-7871

6. SENATOR MARC KEAHEY (Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, Washington):    (334) 242-7843

7. SENATOR T. D. “TED” LITTLE (Lee, Russell, Tallapoosa): (334) 242-7865

8. SENATOR DEL MARSH (Calhoun, St. Clair): (334) 242-7877

9. SENATOR TRIP PITTMAN (Baldwin): (334) 242-7897

10. SENATOR HENRY “HANK” SANDERS (Autauga, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Wilcox): (334) 242-7860

11. SENATOR BOBBY SINGLETON (Bibb, Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Sumter, Tuscaloosa): (334) 242-7935

12. SENATOR RODGER MELL SMITHERMAN (Jefferson): (334) 242-7870

13. SENATOR ZEB LITTLE (Cullman, Lawrence, Winston): (334) 242-7855

14. SENATOR ARTHUR ORR (Limestone, Madison, Morgan): (334) 242-7800

Ala. parole board turning over women’s transition center to Department of Corrections


Alabama’s Board of Pardons and Paroles is turning over its transition center for women paroled from the state prison system to the state Department of Corrections.

Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen says his department will be in control of the center by July.

The center, which opened six years ago, is less than a mile from the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, which is under court order to keep its population at no more than 700.

The center was designed to relieve overcrowding in Tutwiler and give women paroled from the prison system vocational training, drug treatment, and other tools to make it on the outside.

Pardons and Paroles Board chairman Bill Wynne says the program hasn’t been able to fill its classes with parolable women.

AWRN has been hearing rumors of this for a little while now. LIFE Tech, the Parole Board-run transitional center right next to Tutwiler, is being turned over to the ADOC. We still do not know where the women who are currently on parole and living at LIFE Tech are going to go. It is appalling that the Board contends that it can’t fill its classes when we know that there are hundreds of women who could safely be paroled to LIFE Tech and really benefit from the programs offered there. It remains to be seen how this transition will happen.  Will low-risk women be returned to Tutwiler and other low-risk offenders remain at Tutwiler?  If so, it will be a shame.

Phone bills rolling in, but we still need yours!

Hi All,

AWRN still needs your phone bill to include in our developing report on the high cost of staying in touch with your incarcerated loved ones.

AWRN wants to hear from you! Let AWRN know:

  1. How much you spend on phone calls each month
  2. What is the cost per minute for calls
  3. Do you have to pay any connection fees (including credit card fees)
  4. Explain common problems with phone service such as dropped calls, bad connections, charges for lost calls, etc.

Submit copies of your phone bills to AWRN as soon as possible. By providing AWRN with a copy of your phone bill and statement of problems with phone services, we will be able to better advocate for all who are struggling to stay in touch with their incarcerated loved ones. 

Please black out all of your identifying information. AWRN is interested only in the amounts spent by prisoners and families each month and will keep all records anonymous.

Our address is:


1211 28th Street S., Suite 100C

Birmingham, AL 35205

Thank you!

Recent news from CURE National on cell phones in prison:  

Senate Judiciary Committee
S. 1749, Cell Phone Contraband Act of 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2009

Statement of U.S. Senator Russell D. Feingold

I support Senator Feinstein’s bill and think we should be doing everything possible to ensure that inmates are not able to engage in criminal activity behind prison walls. I hope that this bill will discourage prison guards and family members from smuggling cell phones to prisoners. But there is an issue raised by this bill that we ought to consider before the bill goes to the floor.

As I understand it, many state and local prisons charge exorbitant rates for inmate telephone service. While other telecommunications rates have been declining over the last few decades, inmate phone rates have been climbing. Some prisons only offer collect calling services, and they charge up to four dollar connection fee and as much as one dollar a minute. These excessive rates are unacceptable, especially because it is usually the family members of the inmate who bear the brunt of these high fees. In addition, some prisons apparently receive what sounds a lot like a kickback from the providers of telephone service — perhaps as much as 50% of the charges for the calls.

I realize that this can amount to a lot of money and prisons are reluctant to give up a source of funding on which they have come to rely, but I am concerned that the proliferation of cell phones in prisons may, in part, be due to this practice. I think this is something we need to look into, in order to both provide reasonable phone rates to prisoners’ families, and also to reduce the incentive for smuggling cell phones. I hope that Senator Feinstein will be willing to work with me on this as the bill goes through the legislative process.    


Become an AWRN Parole Advocate

Hi Everyone,

AWRN is planning its next training session for new Parole Team Advocates for early June in Birmingham, AL.  Please visit the Be the Link in Your Community page to find out more about this incredible opportunity to work directly with women in prison and support the strengthening of your community.

AWRN is searching for advocates across Alabama, and has a particular need for advocates in Houston Co., Madison Co., Baldwin Co., and Mobile Co.  Please help us spread the word! 

If you are interested in attending the training, please contact AWRN directly to find out more!

Moratorium on Death Penalty Sent to Subcommittee

From Alabama Arise:

A bill proposing a three-year moratorium on Alabama’s use of the death penalty was referred to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

HB 280, sponsored by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Midfield, and supported by ACPP, drew several supporters to the committee hearing, but ran into opposition from several committee members. The debate between the sponsor and Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, centered on whether the state’s capital punishment system contains sufficient safeguards to prevent execution of the innocent.

Coleman argued that a moratorium would allow sufficient time to study the system and implement safeguards ensuring due process and minimizing the risks of executing the innocent. Ward contended that the existence of people who have been exonerated from death row shows that “the system works.” He said a focus on death-row wrongful convictions was not needed because wrongful convictions are not unique to capital crimes.

The subcommittee to which the bill has been referred will meet next Wednesday after the regular 9 a.m. meeting of the Judiciary Committee.

Show your support for HB 280 by calling the following members of the Alabama House Judiciary Committee:

MARCEL BLACK – Democrat, District 3,  Tuscumbia in Colbert County, local phone 256-381-5277, State House Office- (has Secretary who will take message) 334-2427667, House Switchboard 334- 242- 7600 (can leave message).  Thank him for putting HB 280 on the agenda!
CHARLES NEWTON, Democrat, District 90, Butler, Conecuh, Crenshaw Counties – lives in Greenville, local phone 334-382-3370, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
STEVE MCMILLAN, Republican, District 95, Bay Minette in Baldwin County, local phone 251-937-6048 , State House Switchboard 334-242-7600, email bcclegislators@co.baldwin,
SPENCER COLLIER – Republican, District 105, Irvington in Mobile County, local – 251-208-5480, State House Switchboard – 334-242-7600,email
PAUL DEMARCO, Republican, District 46, Birmingham in Jefferson County, local phone 205-802-7285, email, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
CHRIS ENGLAND, Democrat, District 70, Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa County, local phone 205-759-9265,, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
LAURA HALL, Democrat, District 19, Huntsville in Madison County, local phone 256-859-2234, email,State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
JAMIE ISON, Republican, District 101, Mobile in Mobile County, local phone 251-208-5480, email, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
TAMMY IRONS -Democrat, District 1, Florence in Lauderdale County, local phone 256-766-9201, email , State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
JOHN ROBINSON – Democrat, District  23, Scottsboro in Jackson County, local phone 256-259-2434, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
YUSUF SALAAM, Democrat, District 67, Selma in Dallas County, local phone 334-874-2569, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
HOWARD SANDERFORD, Republican, District 20, Huntsville in Madison County, local phone 256-533- 1989, email, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
CAM WARD, Republican, District 49, Bibb and Shelby Counties, lives in Alabaster, local phone 205-664-6848, email, State House Switchboard 334-242-7600
When you call give your name, where you live, ask them to vote “yes” on HB 280  Moratorium on Executions in Judiciary committee.  If you get to talk to them, tell them BRIEFLY why you want them to vote Yes.

Commission’s 2010 Status Report Release

Photos from the Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System’s 201 Status Report release are now up at Flickr

“All have a voice in the work of the Commission and rightly so”  

The temperature dipped below 40 degrees again as supporters of the Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System gathered at the State House steps February 25th to celebrate the release of the Commission’s 2010 Status Report and rally support for the passage of HB 519 which would make the Commission a permanent body.

Rep. Barbara Boyd (Calhoun, Talladega), Commission Co-Chair, spoke to Commission supporters from the State House steps, driving home the urgency of the Commission’s work at the frontline of strengthening lives, families, and communities.
“The number of women incarcerated in Alabama has risen at an alarming rate of over 900% in the last 30 years, surpassing even the high national rate of over 600%,” Rep. Boyd stated, adding emphatically, “Today, in 2010, it is obvious that our state’s criminal justice system has not kept up with this increase, and in many ways, our system has led women and girls to prison. Opportunities for past collaboration came and went, and now our state faces the perilous cost of ongoing lawsuits and the untold costs, both social and fiscal, of more broken homes, more families torn apart, and more struggling neighborhoods and communities.”
Contained in the Commission’s 2010 Status Report is a chart of progress made in 2009. New programs are appearing across agencies and organizations, including the Alabama Department of Correction’s Pre-Release and Reentry Program, the WHI-FI Initiative co-delivered by the Alabama Department of Public Health and Aid to Inmate Mothers, AWRN’s Parole Advocacy Team, and ACADV’s Open Doors Project. 
Rep. Boyd spoke of the year’s progress, which includes a marked reduction in girls in juvenile correctional custody as a result of The Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, a program that focuses on treatment and positive outcomes over custody and control.
“Although we are encouraged by progress made,” Rep. Boyd stated, “it is disappointing to know that our criminal justice system expects women to have the courage to identify their needs and call out for help, often when they have already been abused for many years, or need treatment, or are unable to put their needs into words.” Commission supporters nodded and remarked in agreement as Rep. Boyd added, “That is a shame, not only for them, but a shame on us.” 
House Bill 519, favorably moved from the House to the Senate March 11th, would establish the Commission as a permanent body.
AWRN is very appreciative of the work of the Commission, of which AWRN is a member, as it has consistently worked to include incarcerated women in the development of its reporting and it goals–what better way is there to bring about real reforms and lasting change?!