In Madison County and throughout the State of Alabama, we are already seeing some drastic changes in the ways we are handling our incarcerated brethren due to this unprecedented crisis. In our county specifically, judges are granting pre-trial release to those charged with low-level offenses without requiring them to post a bond. I’ve seen prosecutors dismiss low-level charges, and I’ve seen those determined to have violated probation placed at “end of sentence.” Non-emergency court hearings have been continued, and we have been encouraged to stay out of the courtroom.
And somehow, we have not collapsed. We don’t have a bunch of murderers on the loose and there is no wailing and gnashing of teeth. We are carrying on. Maybe this trying time will show us that there truly is a better way to manage our inmate population. Maybe we don’t have to throw people in jail for possession of a single Xanax pill. Maybe they will still come to court without a $5000 bond over their heads. With fewer people in the jail, you have better inmate control by the jailers which leads to fewer fights among inmates and poses less risk to the jailers. Maybe it could work.