Aniah is the college student who was kidnapped and murdered in 2019.
Mobile’s Mayor, Sandy Stimpson, plus a number of other mayors from Alabama and Governor Kay Ivey, are voicing their support for Aniah’s law, now more than ever with election day approaching.
Aniah’s Law would allow judges to deny bond to violent crime offenders in an effort to keep them off the streets and prevent them from committing other crimes. Those violent offenses include charges like kidnapping and rape.
Legislators initially introduced a bill in 2018 that was unsuccessful, but after Aniah was killed in 2019, they changed the name of the bill to remember her.
This time around, Aniah’s Law passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Those who advocate for fair bond amounts say denying bond in more cases undermines the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” and will contribute to jail overcrowding.
Nonetheless, Governor Ivey released a statement endorsing the bill. A part of that statement read: “I encourage every Alabamian to join me in voting yes on Aniah’s Law to ensure no family would have to go through the pain of preventable tragedy.”
Mayor Stimpson agrees, saying that people who care about public safety will vote in favor of the bill.
“There’s nothing that I know that can be more impactful than passing Amendment 1 because you’re actually changing the State Constitution,” said Mayor Stimpson. “The reason the mayors and the governor are so much behind it is simply because of the impact it will have all across this state protecting our citizens.”
Mayor Stimpson also says that by naming Amendment 1 after Aniah, it helps people put a face to a situation that was preventable with a law like this.
When we previously spoke with Aniah’s mother, Angela Harris, she agreed.
“It was just a law that everyone knew that we needed… the state needed so bad,” said Harris. “To have Aniah’s name on it I feel like that Aniah gave her life for other people and to save other people because this shouldn’t be happening in our state, repeat violent offenders should not be just out on the street to commit violent crimes.”
Not everyone is onboard with Aniah’s Law. Several civil rights organizations in Alabama are raising concerns about the Law.
“Aniah’s Law is a dramatic departure from centuries of Alabama constitutional law. If adopted, the law will give elected judges the discretion to deny bail on many charges that have always been bailable,” said Alabama policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jerome Dees. “It also sets no limits for how long someone can be detained before a determination of innocence or guilt is made. Despite the 6th and 14th Amendments right to a speedy trial, it could be years before a case goes to trial.”
Mayor Stimpson and the District Attorney’s office are set to have a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning regarding Aniah’s law.
There are 80 precincts in Mobile County and voting will take place on Nov. 8.