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Ivey forms criminal justice study group

July 18, 2019

MONTOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced the creation of a study commission to make recommendations on criminal justice reform as the state tries to address overcrowded and understaffed state prisons.

The Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice will gather data related to current sentencing laws and recidivism and also gather examples of best practices from other states, according to a statement from Ivey’s office.

The panel will meet until the 2020 legislative session. Ivey spokeswoman Gina Mailola said a special session to address state prisons is not off the table.

The Department of Justice earlier this year condemned Alabama prisons for excessive levels of violence, inmate deaths and a critical staffing shortage. The Justice Department threatened to file a lawsuit against the state unless the problems were addressed.

“The challenges we face are multifaceted, and in turn, a multifaceted solution, driven by data is necessary,” Ivey said in a statement.

Ivey is chairwoman of the group but said former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Champ Lyons will sometimes serve in her place.

“We will consider the problem of recidivism and steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a released prisoner returning back to state custody. We will also look closely at data on the current sentencing laws,” Lyons said in a statement.

The state attorney general, the state prison commissioner, several legislators and others will serve on the group.

The group will meet for the first time on Monday.

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