MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — There is a new crime law in Alabama that passed without police and prosecutors knowing much about it. They said they don’t like it. Several lawmakers who voted for it now said they’re not sure why they did. And the state senator who came up with the idea doesn’t want to talk about it.

The Juvenile Confidentiality Act went into effect on Aug. 1, 2021. In Mobile, its impact was felt 10 weeks later when five people were shot at a high school football game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Three people stand accused. Two 19-year-olds: Jai Scott and Hezekiah Belfon, and a 17-year-old whose name cannot legally be disclosed now by police or the media.

For decades in Alabama, 16 and 17-year-olds charged with serious crimes, like murder or rape, have been automatically treated as adults. In Mobile County, those suspects are brought not to the Strickland Youth Center, but to Metro Jail, and then tried as adults. That’s still the case, but those minors can no longer be named, even during their trial, unless and until they are found guilty.

Police and prosecutors usually have major input on laws like this, but they say they knew nothing about Senate Bill 206 passed overwhelmingly in the 2021 legislative session.

“I don’t know of very many chiefs that were aware of it before it happened,” said Lawrence Battiste, Mobile Public Safety Director.

He and Mobile County’s District Attorney Ashley Rich said it was a big mistake that threatens public safety.

“If this (juvenile) individual was to make bond, and show up at school next week, I think it’s important the community knows those things,” said Battiste.

“More often than not, they’re going to get out on bond and go right back into that same neighborhood or community,” said Rich. “I think neighbors need to know who’s living next to them.”

Police said it’s not just the threat a violent teenager may pose while out on bond that the law fails to address. They said another failure of the new law became clear after the murder last September in Prichard of La’Craig Brown. The Atmore man was killed outside Fry Daddy’s restaurant.

Prichard detective Robert Martin said he knew who killed Brown within days but it took five months to find the 16-year-old because police couldn’t publicize his name, nor have his picture shown on the news.

“Most of the time we can apprehend that individual rather quickly because people will say ‘hey I know this person,’ or ‘I know where they are,’” said Martin.

The juvenile protection bill was sponsored by Senator Will Barfoot of Montgomery. He did not respond to numerous emails and phone calls requesting an interview. Barfoot is an attorney. His website lists one of his specialties as “juvenile matters.”

Local defense lawyers, however, defend the law.

“I applaud the legislature for what they’ve done,” said attorney Chase Dearman of Mobile. He has defended hundreds of juveniles and said children should never be subjected to the same legal standards as adults.

“Simply because they do what prosecutors deem an ‘adult crime,’ a child is the one that did that, with a child brain, undeveloped,” said Dearman.

Seemingly agreeing with Dearman, not one state-rep, nor senator from the News-5 viewing area voted against the bill. Now, though, at least two said they wish they had.

“That’s probably something we need to revisit,” said Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne. “There are times where what you think is going to be the impact of a piece of legislation isn’t what really happens.”

Gary Albritton of Atmore is another who thinks the law needs to be repealed. He admits he’s not sure how it passed in the first place.

“Good question. Somebody let it get by,” said Albritton.

Albritton and Elliott said protecting the public and supporting law enforcement should be the most important considerations.