MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Some state lawmakers are pushing to change Alabama’s “good time” laws — aiming to make it harder for inmates accused of misconduct to shorten their sentences through good behavior.
Bill sponsors call it the “Deputy Brad Johnson Act” in honor of the Bibb County Deputy killed last June. The man charged with Johnson’s murder was out on “good time” when he was killed.
The former inmate had previously escaped from prison, but his “good time” was not revoked.
“If this had been in place then, the person who shot Deputy Johnson would have still been in prison on June 29, 2022,” Sen. April Weaver (R- Alabaster) said.
Bill sponsor of SB1 Sen. Weaver says she doesn’t think the current “good time” rules incentivize good behavior.
“Today, this automatic revolving door nature of early release has removed the incentive altogether,” Weaver said.
Right now, inmates in a category described as “trustworthy” can shave 75 days off their sentence for every 30 days of good behavior. This bill would cut that down to 30 days of “good time” for 30 days served.
It further slashes time earned for inmates classified as having disciplinary issues. For inmates attempting escape or homicide, they would forfeit “good time” entirely.
“This isn’t just an officer safety issue. This is a public safety issue,” Weaver said.
Alabama’s Fraternal Order of Police supports the bill. President Everette Johnson says he wants lawmakers to make this a top priority.
“We’re hoping that this goes through with no hiccups and that we can bring safety back to our streets from the release of violent offenders,” Johnson said.
While Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law an executive order in January very similar to what this bill is proposing, Weaver says executive actions can be removed at the stroke of a pen, while amending or rescinding statute has a much higher bar to clear.
The legislative session starts on March 7. While this bill will make its way through the Senate, there is a companion bill filed in the House by Rep. Russell Bedsole.