Renewed push to keep violent offenders behind bars

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — There is a renewed focus on whether or not violent offenders in Alabama should have a right to have a bond set.

This relates to the so-called “revolving door of crime,” Mobile County officials announced an Amendment to the Alabama Constitution that would keep violent offenders behind bars last year. It stalled out in the statehouse. Now, there is a renewed push to change the law.

Wednesday, a murder suspect in Mobile County attempted to get his bond reduced.

Jamarkus Holifield and his lawyer asked a judge to reduce his bond in court on Wednesday afternoon. Holifield is accused of shooting and killing Anesa Baker at the Grand Hall last year.

“We are trying to keep these people locked up and stop the revolving door,” said Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood.

We’ve seen it again and again, a violent offender released on bond.

In April of 2018, Holifield was out on bond for assault, when police say he fired shots at the Grand Hall on Easter Weekend, shooting and killing innocent bystander Anesa Baker.

“What we’re seeing is senseless violent crimes. The senseless violent crime is the offender’s already been arrested, has been charged with a violent crime, is released from pre-trial bail, only to re-offend. And we’ve seen time and time again,” said Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber.

Most recently, in the case of missing Auburn teenager Aniah Blanchard, the suspect, Ibraheem Yazeed was out on bond from a previous kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder case.

This has envigorated state legislators into wanting to make a change.

“What I would say we do is, we come back with a law that says certain same violent offenses that the person would qualify for is we make sure there’s an automatic denial of bail under the law,” said Alabama State Senator Cam Ward.

Earlier this year, several Mobile County officials proposed an Amendment to the Alabama Constitution, which would have expanded the suspects that could be held without bond. 

“The judges point to the Alabama Constitution as everybody gets pre-trial bail except in capital cases. That’s why you see these shooters continue to turn to the streets,” said Barber.

Barber says they want to update the 1901 Alabama Constitution for the 21st century, as the problems now aren’t the same as they were then. The Amendment stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Barber says the fight is far from over.

“It was our intent all along to get back into the session this coming year,” said Barber.

Holifield’s request for a bond reduction was denied by the judge.

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