Other Issues - Criminal Justice

LWVAL Action Priority Level III - Issues identified by LWVAL Advocacy Committee and/or State Board or Local Leagues. Monitoring occurs; action dependent on opportunity and available resources.

Click a bill to see sponsor(s), synopsis, link to the bill, League action and justification for that action, and progress of the bill through the legislative process.

thumbs_up_icon.jpg = LWVAL's support for the legislation.
thumbs_down_icon.jpg = LWVAL's opposition to the legislation.
green-right-arrow.jpg = new bill activity; change from previous week's report such as new progress in the legislature and/or League action. Bill may be one newly added to the report. These updates are in green font.

Contact information for legislators and committees referenced in the bills below:
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LWVAL has taken a position on these bills:

thumbs_up_icon.jpgHB28 - Criminal records, expunged of, eligibility expanded to include add'l offenses and youthful offender adjudications, filing fees, distrib. of fees revised, Secs. 15-27-1, 15-27-2, 15-27-3,15-27-4, 15-27-6, 15-27-7, 15-27-8 am'd.
thumbs_up_icon.jpgSB119 - Expungement of criminal records, authorized for youthful offenders, Sec. 15-27-2.1 added

HB28 Sponsor(s):  Rep. England
SB119 Sponsor(s): Senator Whatley 
Synopsis:  This bill expands the ways persons can expunge past criminal convictions from their records.  It allows for automatic expungement upon the successful completion of such prosecution diversion programs as drug court, veterans court, or court ordered mental health counseling.  It also allows expungement for youthful offenders and many kinds of minor offenses (but not for sex offenses or domestic violence offenses) as well as for offenses that have been officially pardoned.

League Action and Justification:  Support. The bill promotes court diversion and counseling programs which the league supports.  It also supposes the idea that rehabilitation is the goal of the criminal justice system, another concept that the league supports – unfortunately, if the expungement is not automatic (as it would be for successful completion of a prosecution diversion program), it is expensive for low income persons ($300 filing fee and $500 administrative charge).

Bill Progress in Legislature:

HB 28

First Read and assigned to House Judiciary Committee (JUD)


First Read and assigned to Senate committee Judiciary (JUD)

thumbs_up_icon.jpgSB35 - Domestic violence, protection orders, definitions clarified, notice of hearing and service of process requirements clarified, fines and penalties for violations clarified, Sec. 13A-6-139.1 repealed; Secs. 13A-6-130, 13A-6-131, 13A-6-132, 13A-6-134, 13A-6-138, 13A-6-142, 15-10-3, 15-13-190, 15-23-68, 30-5-2, 30-5-3, 30-5-5, 30-5-8 am'd.

Sponsor(s): Senator Scofield

Synopsis: Under existing law, the commission of domestic violence is a crime, and there are provisions to protect domestic violence victims from further acts of violence. Furthermore, during the 2015 Regular Session, significant revisions were made to existing provisions in law governing domestic violence offenses and domestic violence protection orders (Act 2015-496).

This bill would clarify certain provisions of Act 2015-496, including clarification of definitions, including dating relationships and household members, certain requirements for sworn petitions for protection orders, notice of hearing and service of process requirements, fines and penalties for violations of protection orders, arrests without warrants for violation of protection orders, release and bail of domestic violence offenders, and provisions governing domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation.

League Action and Justification: Support. An importation part of the principles upon which the League of Women Voters was founded is that government “share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare…”

Domestic violence occurs without distinction among demographic groups, including race, economic class, age, sexual preference, educational level, occupational category. Its impacts (short-term and long-term) include among other things added costs to law enforcement, the courts, and medical systems; traumatic stress disorder in the victims (the abused and the young who witness the abuse) and such related negative behaviors are acting out, poor school performance and depression; perpetuation of abuse across generations; and much more.

Act 2015-496 was supported by League, and this bill seeks to improve that legislation.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

02/07/2017: First Read and referred to Senate committee on Judiciary (JUD)

thumbs_down_icon.jpgHB298 - Domestic violence, increased incarceration periods and enhanced penalties for convictions of first, second, or third degree domestic violence if committed in the presence of a minor, capital offense expanded to include murder of a parent or guardian in the presence of a child, Hollie's Law, Secs. 13A-5-40, 13A-6-130, 13A-6-131, 13A-6-132 am'd.

Sponsor(s): Representatives Pettus, Ledbetter, Faulkner, Williams (P), Williams (JW), Shedd, Wood, Patterson, Fridy, Sessions, South, Rowe, Weaver and Greer

Synopsis: Under existing law, certain periods of incarceration are required for persons convicted of first, second, or third degree domestic violence. This bill would double the incarceration periods for convictions of first or second degree domestic violence if a child under the age of 18 years witnessed the domestic violence and would provide increased incarceration periods for a first conviction of third degree domestic violence if a child under the age of 18 years witnessed the domestic violence and enhanced penalties for second, third, or subsequent convictions of third degree domestic violence if a child witnessed the domestic violence.

Also under existing law, a person who commits a capital offense may be sentenced to death or life without parole. This bill would include as a capital offense murder by the defendant that is witnessed by a child under the age of 18 years, if the victim was the parent or legal guardian of the child.

League Action and Justification: Oppose. League does not support the use of the death penalty. And, the child witness could be further traumatized by the carrying out of the death penalty if the perpetrator is a parent or guardian.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

First Read and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD)

thumbs_up_icon.jpgHB280 - Employment practice, unlawful to inquire from job applicant information relating to arrests or conviction of crimes, criminal record, with exceptions

Sponsor: Representative Givan

Synopsis: This is a "ban-the-box" provision. The state, its agencies, and political subdivisions shall be prohibited from inquiring into a job applicant's conviction history until a conditional job offer has been made. Prior convictions may be considered only if relevant to the position to be offered.

League Action and Justification: Support. LWVAL's position states: "[League] supports the concept of rehabilitation as a major goal of the criminal justice system." This bill would promote rehabilitation.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

02/21/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the House committee on State Government (SG)

thumbs_up_icon.jpgSB294 - Municipal courts, pretrial diversion program, voluntary transfer authorized

Sponsor(s): Senator Ward

Synopsis: Municipal Courts would be authorized to transfer cases to District Court in order to give the charged access to pre-trial diversion programs.

League Action and Justification: Support. This bill is in line with our position on Criminal Justice.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

03/09/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary (JUD)

LWVAL is monitoring these bills:

green-right-arrow.jpgHB279 - Expungement of criminal records, expanded to include all felony offenses subject to a successful malicious prosecution civil claim, Sec. 15-27-2 am'd.

Sponsor: Representative Baker

Synopsis: Currently, a person may petition the court to expunge records of charges for other than violent felony charges, under certain circumstances. This expands the type of charges that may be expunged when the person is found not guilty, to include violent felony charges.

League Action and Justification: Monitor. League has no position on this issue.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

02/21/2017: Read for the 1st time and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD)

03/02/2017: 2nd Read and placed on the calendar with 1 Amendment (183351-1); pending 3rd Read and favorable from JUD with 1 amendment

[NOTE: The amendment sets up procedures for potential release of the expunged record in case of civil suit arising from the arrest or conviction that was the subject of the expungement.]

03/07/2017: Third Reading Carried Over; Holmes (M) Amendment (183612-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted by Roll Call; Holmes (M) motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted by Voice Vote; Holmes (M) motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted Voice Vote

HB304 - Elderly, Elder Abuse Protection Orders, authorized, elder abuse defined, Sec. 15-10-3 am'd.

Sponsor(s): Representative Scott

Synopsis: The bill establishes the Elder Abuse Protection Order and Enforcement Act. The act creates a method for obtaining a protection order against an individual who has committed elder abuse and expands the ability of law enforcement to assist victims by allowing for arrest without warrants as amended under Section 15-10-3. An order is defined as a restraint order, injunctive order, order of release from custody and may be issued by a circuit, district, municipal or probate court. Elderly person is defined as a person 60 years of age or older.

League Action and Justification: Monitor. While this legislation provides for speedier protection for victims and aligns with that relating to domestic abuse, there is no directly applicable League position on elder abuse.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

02 /23/2017: First Reading and referred to House committee on Judiciary (JUD)


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