Prison reform bill heads to the governor for signature

    Major prison reform legislation has been sent to Governor Robert Bentley's desk for signature. Alabama's prisons are at nearly 200-percent capacity and there's a chance the federal government could take over. That could mean a mass release of inmates. Lawmakers crafted this bill to avoid that. The Alabama House of Representatives passed the measure Thursday evening. Soon after, the Senate agreed to a few minor changes made. The reforms, along with new prison construction, would lower capacity to 138 percent over five years. It changes sentencing guidelines and creates a new class d felony. The bill also calls for increased supervision after release to try to prevent recidivism. Another part of it makes it easier for those released to get drivers licenses. Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) led the reform effort. "We should be proud of what the legislature did today," Ward told ABC 33/40. "It was not the final solution to prison reform but it was a good, very historic first step. This is the first time in our state's history that we've actually taken on very meaningful sentencing reform and prison reform and we're making the step in the right direction."

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