Local sheriff’s department pushing law makers to strengthen Alabama’s “good time” laws

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 8:55 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - With less than a month until state lawmakers head to Montgomery, and with the new release of nearly 400 state prisoners, local sheriffs are pushing to change Alabama’s “good time” laws.

A new bill headed to Montgomery is aimed at making it harder for inmates to shorten their sentences with “good behavior”.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said that current “good time laws” are making it too easy for dangerous prisoners to be released.

“Legislators need to step up and fix this prison system once and for all,” Wade said. “These people have had numerous chances with probation, parole, pardons, and drug rehabs, judges giving them chance after chance after chance. They exhausted all of those, so they are in prison.”

Wade said the current “good time” law is too loose and is letting out dangerous criminals.

“The Department of Corrections had an inmate that escaped from one of their facilities and after he escaped, Oxford Police Department here in my county chased him on the interstate,” Wade said. “He had drugs, guns, and they had to fight him. They charged him with 10 or 11 felonies and they placed him in my jail. While he is in my jail, he strangled one of my corrections officers.”

That inmate was Austin Patrick Hall, the man accused of killing Deputy Sheriff Brad Johnson in June 2022.

Hall was never charged for the 2019 escape. Wade said after eight months, because of “good time”, he was out of county jail.

“Not only did they not charge him, they allowed him to get good time, 30 days for everyday served,” Wade said. “He was able to bond out from Calhoun County Jail. He went to the Chilton County Jail, where he bonded out. Then, three weeks later. he shot and killed a Bibb County Deputy Sheriff. If they had charged him, with the escape, he still would have been in jail. If they took away his good time, he still would have been in jail.”

Hall also shot and injured another deputy, Chris Poole.

“Shot and killed one and wounded another, and this is all because the Department of Corrections didn’t charge him with escape and allowed him to continue getting good time,” Wade said.

Hall was charged for the alleged 2019 escape in July 2022, one month after Johnson’s death.

The new bill called the “Deputy Brad Johnson Act” is set to be presented early March 2023.

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