Alabama is one of America’s poorest states. We also have one of the highest incarceration rates. As a state we have prioritized prisons and punishment over prosperity.

Appleseed confronts these challenges with research, policy change campaigns, coalition building, and direct action. Our work is focused on:

Economic justice and the criminalization of poverty

Appleseed believes that Alabamians want our state to be safer and more prosperous. Our research and policy-change campaigns examine drivers of poverty and incarceration and offer evidence-based solutions for a brighter way forward.

Let’s invest in people, not prisons. Let’s fight poverty, not create it. Let’s achieve justice and equity for all Alabamians.

How Appleseed Addresses These Problems

  • After several years of advocacy, SB 154 has been signed into law, ending Alabama’s practice of automatically suspending people’s driver’s licenses for missing a single payment or court hearing. This new law will make life easier for more than 170,000 Alabamians who have had their license suspended for debt-related reasons.
  • In the 2022 legislative session, we introduced and helped secure passage of HB95, giving people leaving prison a grace period of 180 days post-release before they have to pay back court-imposed fines and fees. Alabama is now the second southern state to pass such a bill.Additional good news out of the Statehouse in 2022 included the passing of:
    • SB203 requiring municipalities to report various data about revenue and disbursements.
    • SB282 capping the percentage of a municipality’s operating budget that can come from traffic fines and penalties at 10%, disincentivizing policing for profit in small cities.
    • HB230 preventing the shackling of pregnant women in Alabama prisons and jails.
    • SB168 legalizing fentanyl test strips to help prevent overdoses.
  • We’re helping connect formerly incarcerated people with the ID they need to succeed in re-entry. As advisors to the Financial Health Network, we helped develop three projects that will make it easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain valid state IDs and enable them to form relationships with financial institutions. The projects, led by Auburn University, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Restorative Strategies in partnership with a host of Alabama agencies, nonprofits, and direct service providers, will roll out during the first half of 2022. Keep an eye on this space for more news!
  • We stopped prison profiteer CoreCivic from expanding into Alabama. Alongside coalitions of Alabama activists, including Communities Not Prisons and Alabama Students Against Prisons, and national allies, we pressured Barclays, Keybanc Capital Markets, and Stifel to withdraw financing for a multi-billion dollar plan that would have brought two privately owned mega prisons into rural Alabama communities. All three banks dropped out, leaving the largest expansion of mass incarceration in state history in limbo.
  • Exposed the case of Sean Worsley, a Purple Heart veteran sentenced to five years in prison for bringing his legally prescribed medical marijuana into Alabama, and assembled a coalition of veterans, lawmakers, and other advocates to successfully advocate for his parole.
  • Led effort (with The Southern Center for Human Rights) to end the decades-long practice of Alabama sheriffs personally pocketing jail food funds by underfeeding people in their custody. Through investigation and litigation, we determined multiple sheriffs profited more than $1 million combined, leading to the passage of SB228 in the 2019 legislative session which requires taxpayer dollars allocated for feeding incarcerated people to be spent on jail food.

  • Fought for passage of the Alabama Forfeiture Information Reporting Act, which requires detailed, mandatory reporting by law enforcement of all property seized through civil asset forfeiture and establishes a mandatory, public database of private property seizures by the state; overcame resistance by law enforcement who had promoted a voluntary database.

  • In 2019 legislative session, helped secure passage of SB30 which increases access to justice for low-wealth Alabamians. This bill ensures that backlogs in the court system to approve applications for filing fee waivers through affidavits of substantial hardship do not prevent low-income people from having their cases heard in court.

  • Led effort (with the Southern Poverty Law Center) to remove the power of a judge to override a jury’s sentencing verdict in capital cases (judges had often imposed death sentences against the will of the jury).