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.

Transformative change is possible in Alabama. Here’s how we do it.

We develop solutions and advocate for criminal justice reform at the Alabama Legislature. Recent statewide wins include:

  • SB322 creating a family services unit and more accountability at the Alabama Department of Corrections. Families with incarcerated loved ones now have staff dedicated to meeting their needs. PASSED IN 2024.
  • SB154 ending Alabama’s practice of automatically suspending people’s driver’s licenses for missing a single payment or court hearing. This law makes life easier for more than 170,000 Alabamians who had their license suspended for debt-related reasons. PASSED IN 2023.
  • HB95 giving people leaving prison a grace period of 180 days post-release before they must begin to pay back court-imposed fines and fees. Alabama is now the second southern state with such a law. PASSED IN 2022.

Our policy expertise also creates sweeping change at the local level.

  • The Jefferson County Equitable Fines and Fees (JEFF) Project partners with data scientists to remit court fines and fees on a large scale in Alabama’s largest county and identify ways to improve the fair administration of justice. Alongside judges and other elected officials, Appleseed and our partners are addressing long-standing unfair and inequitable practices and sharing our success with new jurisdictions.
  • A City of Montgomery executive order forgiving old municipal traffic and marijuana court debt was signed in February 2024, thanks to our research and advocacy.
  • Appleseed helped launch the Birmingham Re-entry Alliance, an innovative partnership of eight nonprofit and faith groups alongside the office of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, to provide holistic re-entry services to people returning to Birmingham from Alabama prisons.

We work to free Alabamians trapped by excessive sentences then provide dedicated reentry support to everyone we serve.

We listen to and support Alabamians directly impacted by harsh laws and broken systems.

  • Appleseed’s research and advocacy staff relies on surveys and narratives of Alabamians directly impacted by the broken systems we are striving to reform. We correspond with hundreds of incarcerated people and their families, lift up their stories, and connect them with advocacy opportunities and elected officials.

  • We know that many survivors of crime are not being served by current responses to violence. Alongside survivors, we are working toward solutions that repair rather than perpetuate harm, as presented in our Afterward report.