Why We Support HB 107

We need our legislators to vote yes and pass HB107, which repeals the HFOA.

Currently, Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA) traps hundreds of  people in our prison system for life or life without parole sentences for offenses that would result in much shorter sentences under today’s laws.  

Alabama’s HFOA allows prior convictions committed when individuals were less than 18, as well as low-level drug and property crimes, to be used for enhancement purposes. As a result, nearly 5,600 individuals in Alabama are serving long prison sentences enhanced by the HFOA, including more than 1,600 lifers. Of these, 239 will die in prison unless the law is changed.

Why we support this bill and hope you will urge your legislators to pass HB107:

(1)  The United States Department of Justice has determined that conditions throughout Alabama’s prison system for men violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. HB 107 provides a mechanism to reduce prison overcrowding without compromising public safety and without relying on the federal government to undertake this responsibility for us.  

(2) The older people serving life and life without parole under the HFOA are both the most costly to incarcerate and the least likely to reoffend. Government data shows that re-offense drops dramatically as people reach their 40s to almost zero by age 60. There is no public safety justification for these sentences. Alabama simply cannot afford to warehouse people who pose no threat to public safety in overcrowded, violent prisons.

(3) HFOA affects over 6,000 people who are serving enhanced prison sentences based on prior offenses. Three out of four people sentenced to die in prison under HFOA are Black. These overly punitive sentences are driving mass incarceration.

HB 107 gives Alabama’s Circuit Court judges discretion in reviewing life without parole sentences imposed decades ago and to revisit those sentences in circumstances where incarcerated people in their 50s and 60s have engaged in positive programs, demonstrated rehabilitation, and are no risk to public safety if re-sentenced and released.

Jane Grey Battle
Jane Grey Battle

Jane Grey loves to read, cook, and play with her two dogs, Mike and Rocket. She competes nationally with the Mountain Brook Debate Team and volunteers at the Birmingham Women’s Policy Institute. She has watched Alabama progress and is excited to be a part of the change.