In Alabama, provisions relating to pardon and parole are provided under Code of Ala. § 15-22-1 through § 15-22-92. Code of Ala. § 15-22-20(a) establishes a Board of Pardons and Paroles (“Board”) consisting of three members. The Board has the authority and power, after conviction and not otherwise, to grant pardons and paroles and to remit fines and forfeitures[i] However, the Board is not empowered to grant pardon or parole in cases of treason and impeachment, and cases in which sentence of death is imposed and not commuted.
Duties of the Board
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-24(a), the Board has the duty to determine which prisoners may be released on parole and the conditions of parole. Duties of the Board include[ii]:
- Determining which prisoners serving sentences in the jails and prisons of the State of Alabama may be released on parole, when, and under what conditions.
- Supervising all prisoners released on parole from the jails or prisons of the state.
- Lending the Board’s assistance to the courts in the supervision and investigation of prisoners placed on probation by courts exercising criminal jurisdiction.
- Determining if there is a violation of parole or probation conditions in specific cases, and deciding in the case of parolees, actions to be taken with reference thereto. In the case of probationers, reports of such investigations will be made to the judges of the courts having jurisdiction of the probationers.
- Aiding parolees and probationers to secure employment.
- Personally studying the prisoners confined in the jails and prisons of the state to determine their ultimate fitness to be paroled.
Grounds for Release on Parole
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-26, the Board may release a prisoner on parole only if it is of the opinion that such prisoner may live and remain at liberty without violating laws, and his/her release is not detrimental to the welfare of the society. A prisoner will not be released on parole merely as a reward for good conduct or efficient performance of duties assigned in prison.
A prisoner will be released on parole upon the terms and conditions prescribed by the Board. While on parole, the prisoner will be in the legal custody of the warden of the prison from which he/she is paroled until the expiration of the maximum term specified in his sentence or until he/she is fully pardoned[iii].
Conditions of Parole
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-29, the Board in releasing a prisoner on parole, will specify in writing the conditions of parole. A copy of such conditions will be given to the parolee. A parolee violating the conditions will be liable for arrest and reimprisonment. The Board will include, among other conditions, a requirement that[iv]:
- The parolee may not leave the state without the consent of the board;
- The parolee may contribute to the support of his dependents to the best of his ability;
- The parolee may make reparation or restitution for his/her crime;
- The parolee abandon evil associates and ways; and
- The parolee may follow his/her parole officer’s instructions
Authority of the Board
Code of Ala. § 15-22-36 provides provisions relating to the authority of the Board.
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(a), in all cases except treason and impeachment, and cases in which sentence of death is imposed and not commuted, as is provided by law, the Board has the authority and power, after conviction and not otherwise, to grant pardons and paroles and to remit fines and forfeitures. Each member of the Board favoring a pardon, parole, remission of a fine or forfeiture, or restoration of civil and political rights must enter in the file his/her favoring reasons in detail, which entry and the order shall be public records. However, all other portions of the file remain privileged.[v]
Granting pardon will not relieve one from civil and political disabilities unless specifically expressed in the pardon. A pardon may be granted only after the prisoner successfully completes at least three years of permanent parole; or until the expiration of one’s sentence if the sentence was for less than three years[vi]. However, a pardon based on innocence may be granted upon the unanimous affirmative vote of the Board following receipt and filing of clear proof of innocence of the crime for which the person was convicted and the written approval of the judge who tried the case, or district attorney, or with the written approval of a circuit judge in the circuit where he/she was convicted if the judge who tried the case is dead or no longer serving[vii].
The Board is not empowered to grant a pardon, order a parole, remit a fine or forfeiture, or restore civil and political rights until a 30 days’ notice is given by the Board to the Attorney General, the judge and the district attorney who tried the subject’s case, the chief of police in the municipality in which the crime occurred, if the crime was committed in an incorporated area with a police department, and to the sheriff of the county where convicted, and to the same officials of the county where the crime occurred if different from the county of conviction[viii]. The notice will state that the prisoner is being considered for pardon, parole, remitting a fine or forfeiture, or restoration of civil and political rights.
In particular cases, the Board can approve or grant a pardon, parole, remission of fine or forfeiture, restoration of civil and political rights, furlough, leave or early release of a person only after giving notice to the victim or victim’s immediate family. Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(e)(1), until at least 30 days’ written notice of the Board’s action to be considered has been given by the Board to the victim named in the indictment, or if the victim is deceased as a result of the offense, the victim’s immediate family, the Board of Pardons and Paroles cannot approve or order any parole, pardon, remission of fine or forfeiture, restoration of civil and political rights, furlough, leave or early release of a person convicted of certain types of offenses. Some of the offenses are: Class A felony, felony involving violence, death or any physical injury to the person of another, felony involving unlawful sexual assault or other unlawful sexual conduct on the person of another, and felony involving sexual assault, or a lewd or lascivious act upon a child under the age of 16 years or attempt thereof.
After granting pardon or parole, the Board has a duty to notify all persons entitled to notice as to the actions taken by the Board and the conditions, if any[ix].
Municipal Parole Board
Pursuant to Code of Ala. § 15-22-70, the mayor, or the chief executive officer if there is no mayor, of any municipality of the state of Alabama, having a municipal court may appoint a Municipal Parole Board. The Municipal Parole Board may[x]:
- remit fines and such costs as are payable to the city, and commute any sentence imposed by the municipal court or any court to which an appeal is taken;
- grant paroles, work, and educational releases;
- prescribe the conditions of parole;
- provide for the supervision of parolees.
However, the parole period must not exceed two years, and also must not go beyond the length of sentence. The Municipal Parole Board may revoke parole if the parolee fails to observe the conditions of parole.[xi]
[i] Code of Ala. § 15-22-36.
[ii] Code of Ala. § 15-22-24(a).
[iii] Code of Ala. § 15-22-26.
[iv] Code of Ala. § 15-22-29(b).
[v] Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(b).
[vi] Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(c).
[viii] Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(d).
[ix] Code of Ala. § 15-22-36(f).
[x] Code of Ala. § 15-22-72.