MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Nearly 400 inmates will be released from prison in Alabama over the next couple of months due to a law passed during a special 2021 legislative session.

This law was put in place to relieve overcrowding in prisons statewide, but local law enforcement officials are not happy about this decision.

In Mobile County alone, 41 convicted prisoner will be released within the next month or so. Crimes range from drug possession to murder and rape. Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch and Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack say this could lead to more issues.

“You know, I’ve never seen anything like this a mass release like this,” said Burch.

“These people are going from the front door of the prison to the community streets,” said Mack. “They’re coming right back into the communities and some of these offenders, especially in Baldwin County, have records that go back over 20 years.”

Upon the early release of inmates, they would have to wear ankle monitors and meet certain conditions. Sheriff Burch says managing the inmates will be challenging due to lack of resources within the state.

“The state’s already shorthanded, so I can’t imagine that there’s an adequate number of Pardon and Parole personnel to monitor these, you know, whatever type of equipment it is,” said Burch. “So it leaves a lot of us in law enforcement and legal community scratching our head as to why anyone thought this was a good decision.”

Some inmates in other parts of Alabama like Shane Routledge of Birmingham have been released. Routledge was incarcerated for drug crimes, but he plans to use this opportunity to turn his life around.

“I’ve been looking forward to getting out and being able to get back into society,” said Routledge.

In Mobile County, at least 12 of the convicted prisoners being let out for violent crimes.

  • 4 convicted of murder
  • 2 convicted of attempted murder
  • 3 convicted of manslaughter
  • 4 convicted of rape
  • 2 convicted for failure to register as a sex offender

Burch says he is trying to remain optimistic. He hopes the violent offenders don’t reoffend once they are released from prison, but he’s not keeping his expectations high.

“I just hope these people that are coming back to community are ready to be productive citizens and not reoffend,” said Burch. “But haven’t done this for 34 years, I don’t have a lot of high hopes and that happening.”

A number of inmates haven’t been released yet because the victims families are yet to be notified. Once they are notified, larger amounts will soon be released.