It is the mission of this agency to promote and enhance public safety through cooperation and collaboration with the Legislature, the Courts, the Department of Corrections, other criminal justice agencies, victims, and the community by providing investigation, supervision, and surveillance services in a holistic approach to rehabilitating adult offenders.
We will protect the public by providing effective supervision and rehabilitation to adult offenders.
• We value the ability to assist in protecting the public from those offenders who would re-offend
• We believe that victims are entitled to restorative justice
• We value the opportunity for offenders to become rehabilitated and thus become productive citizens
• We value the effectiveness and efficiency of offender supervision in the community, where possible
• We believe that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect
• We value our staff and their contributions in achieving our mission
CODE OF ETHICS
The Bureau and its staff subscribes to the following code of ethics in the performance of their duties:
• To serve with humility
• To uphold the law with dignity
• To be objective in the performance of my duties
• To respect the inalienable rights of all persons
• To hold inviolate those confidences reposed in me
• To cooperate with fellow workers and related agencies
• To be aware of my responsibilities to the individual and to the community
• To improve my professional standards through continuously seeking knowledge and understanding
HISTORY OF THE AGENCY
Alabama’s first parole law was passed in 1897. It authorized the Governor to discharge an inmate and suspend a sentence without granting a pardon. He was authorized to prescribe the terms upon which an inmate so paroled shall have a sentence suspended and to secure the rearrest and reimprisonment of any parolee who failed to observe the conditions of his parole. Prior to this law, the only legal means of releasing a prisoner before the expiration of the sentence was by pardons granted by the Governor.
The Constitution of 1901 gave the Governor the power to grant paroles. It also provided for the establishment of a Board of Pardons composed of the Attorney General, the State Auditor, and the Secretary of State to advise the Governor on parole and clemency matters.
In 1919, an act was passed providing for the imposition of indeterminate sentences upon certain persons convicted of felonies and for the parole of such persons at the expiration of the minimum sentence by the Board of Pardons without the approval of the Governor. This act was repealed in 1939 and now only definite sentences are authorized.
In 1935, the Governor created by executive order the Alabama Parole Bureau to make an independent study of prisoners confined in the prisons of Alabama to recommend to the Governor those worthy of test paroles. The bureau was composed of a chairman, an associate member and a secretary. Only one parole officer was provided for the investigation and supervision of prisoners.
On July 11, 1939, a constitutional amendment was adopted, providing for the removal of the pardoning and paroling authority from the Governor and placing it in the hands of the legislature. The legislature passed an enabling act in August 1939 providing for the creating of a three-member State Board of Pardons and Paroles with complete and final authority in matters of pardons, paroles, restoration of civil and political rights, and remissions of fines and forfeitures. This act was substantially amended in 1951. (Title 42, Code of Alabama 1940, as amended). The present statutory authority is Title 15, Code of Alabama 1975, as amended. The three original members of the Board were Judge Alex Smith, Chairman; Mrs. Edwina Mitchell, Associate Member; Judge Robert M. Hill, Associate Member. They were appointed on September 1, 1939, for staggered terms of two (2), four (4), and six (6) years. All subsequent terms are for six years. The Board appointed thirteen probation and parole officers on October 1, 1939.
PROBATION IN ALABAMA
Adult probation in Alabama began on August 24, 1939, when the Governor approved an enabling act giving the legislature power to authorize adult probation.
Prior to this act, it had been held that the Alabama courts did not have inherent power to suspend sentences. The courts’ action in suspending sentences was held to be an encroachment on the executive power to pardon, commute, and reprieve. In 1931, the legislature passed a law giving the judges power to suspend execution of sentences and place offenders on probation. This act was declared unconstitutional in 1935. Had it been constitutional it would have done little more than authorize suspended sentences since, in most cases, there was no provision for investigation and supervision.
Under the present adult probation law, Alabama has a statewide uniform administration of probation. Probation Officers are appointed by the state Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, subject to the Merit System, and are supervised by the Bureau. Probation Officers act in a dual capacity in that they serve the courts in probation matters and the Board in parole matters. They are sworn law enforcement officers with arrest powers and must meet the training requirements of the Peace Officers Minimum Standards and Training Act.