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SPLC Analysis: Racial disparities apparent as hundreds denied parole in Alabama in June

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Hundreds of people incarcerated in Alabama prisons were denied parole in June, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) analysis published today. 

SPLC reviewed 452 parole hearings in June and found the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles approved only 88 people for release. White people were 2.6 times more likely to be granted parole than Black people.

SPLC is among a number of advocacy organizations calling for Alabama officials to reduce the prison population in various ways – including increased use of parole – as COVID-19 spreads through the carceral system.

As of July 17, nearly 150 incarcerated people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 13 have died from coronavirus, according to data released by the Alabama Department of Corrections. More than 230 corrections employees have tested positive, and two have died.

“By continuing to deny hundreds of people parole, Alabama officials are failing to utilize an essential tool to safely reduce the state’s prison population and prevent further deaths due to COVID-19,” said Ebony Howard, senior supervising attorney for SPLC. “There are many people who are elderly or infirmed in Alabama prisons who are at extreme risk of dying from COVID-19, but pose no threat to public safety. It is time for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to eliminate racial bias from their decision-making and grant more people parole.”