The Common Good

Will Alabama’s Governor Listen to the Faith Community?

Over the past few weeks, Christians have written Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley asking him to stop the immoral practices that plague the state’s criminal justice institutions. This incredible outcry from the faith community demonstrates their outrage at stories of people in poverty spending days, weeks, and months in jail over their inability to pay fees and fines to private companies contracted to administer parts of Alabama’s system. 

When contacted by Sojourners for a response to the thousands of messages received from people of faith about this issue,  Jeremy King, spokesman for Gov. Bentley’s office responded, "We can review this issue and move forward from there."

This week, a Birmingham lawyer asked the Department of Justice to investigate “abuses of citizens caught in a trap of continually mounting fees with a private probation company in both Birmingham and Hoover municipal courts.”

The system, she says, makes it appealing for courts to sentence offenders of minor infractions to private prisons because the municipality shares the profits with the private probation company.

In parts of Alabama, the government profits when people go to prison. The state’s justice system has become rife with injustice. If you haven’t contacted Gov. Bentley yet, please send him an e-mail right now. 

James Colten is Campaigns Assistant for Sojourners. You can follow him on Twitter @jamescolten

Photo: Siarhei Fedarenka /

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