MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama voters will be deciding on several ballot measures Tuesday in addition to candidates.
Amendment 1, or Aniah’s Law, would give judges more discretion in denying bail to those charged with certain violent offenses, like murder, kidnapping and rape.
The legislation came in response to the death of 19-year-old college student Aniah Blanchard, who was kidnapped and killed in 2019. Her accused killer was out on bond for another violent felony offense.
Southern Poverty Law Center Policy Director Jerome Dees says he understands why crime victims would welcome the law but says it raises due process concerns.
“Until adjudicated and convicted otherwise, individuals, even if they are charged with a crime, are still innocent until determined guilty,” Dees said.
If approved, Dees says there could be a range of negative ramifications to the state’s legal system.
“We open ourselves up to the possibility of ancillary consequences such as jail overcrowding or court docket backlogs, or a host of other issues, which may exacerbate the problems that we’re already seeing,” Dees said.
Attorney General Steve Marshall says the law is a clear response to a problem that voters now have the chance to address.
“We saw where the system failed, where we need to be able to make changes that could have resulted in Aniah still being here today, but yet, Aniah’s law is an opportunity for us to keep the worst behind bars until we can hold them accountable,” Marshall said.
Marshall says he’s optimistic the amendment will pass.
“I think we’re going to see overwhelming support across Alabama in support of the law,” Marshall said. “I absolutely am grateful for Aniah’s family for allowing this needed change to be able to take place.”
In addition to the attorney general, the governor and several mayors across the state have voiced support for the amendment.