Alabama’s death penalty system is broken beyond repair. Over ten years ago the American Bar Association brought together a team of Alabama legal experts to review Alabama’s use of the death penalty. The team, which included a prosecutor, criminal defense attorneys, a State Senator, a law professor, a retired federal magistrate judge, and a retired Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, had a clear mission – to determine the fairness and accuracy of Alabama’s death penalty process.
Despite the differing views on whether Alabama should have a death penalty, their conclusion was unanimous – Alabama’s death penalty system ensures neither fairness nor accuracy. In fact, the concerns were so serious that the ABA report recommended a temporary moratorium on executions until the recommendations were implemented.
Over ten years later, the vast majority of those recommendations have still not been implemented. We’re working to implement these recommendations.
What we do
Alabama Appleseed led the effort (with the Southern Poverty Law Center) to remove the power of a judge to override a jury’s sentencing verdict in capital cases.
Predatory Lending Project
Tens of thousands of Alabamians are trapped in a cycle of debt because of predatory loans. According to the latest information available from the Alabama State Banking Department, there are 630 licensed payday loan shops open for business in the state today. By comparison, there are approximately 250 McDonald’s restaurants in Alabama. The Banking Department—which has been tracking data on all payday loans granted in Alabama since 2015—reports that the average payday borrower in Alabama takes out eight loans per year. Between October 2016 and September 2017, 214,429 Alabamians took out more than 1.8 million payday loans.
The Consumer Federation of America reports that using payday loans leaves consumers twice as likely to end up in bankruptcy within two years, twice as likely to end up becoming delinquent on credit cards, more likely to have their bank accounts closed involuntarily, and also much more likely to struggle with necessary living expenses.
Beyond the individual costs that borrowers are burdened with, the debt traps created by the payday loan industry suck vast sums of money out of local economies and small businesses. Between October 2016 and October 2017, Alabamians paid more than $107 million dollars to payday lenders in fines and fees. In the preceding year, the amount was $116.4 million. If these two years are representative, then it is likely that Alabama’s local economies—and low-income communities—are losing more than a billion dollars every decade to payday lenders in fees alone. That money isn’t staying in Alabama, either: it is almost exclusively flowing to the out-of-state corporate headquarters of major payday lending franchises.
Alabama Appleseed is committed to protecting borrowers in our state from predatory lending practices. We advance legislation that would curb the predatory practices of payday lenders in Alabama, with the ultimate goal of instituting a 36 percent APR rate cap on all small loans (as is standard in many other states, including in Georgia and North Carolina).
Why This Matters
Low-income borrowers face interest rates as high as 456% APR;
30 percent of payday loan borrowers took out 12 payday loans or more according to the most recent annual data;
Payday borrowers paid payday lenders more than $107 million in fees in the most recent year alone.
Photograph by Val Downes
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently solicited public comments related to their proposal to weaken protections for payday loan borrowers. An open letter submitted to the CFPB by Alabama Appleseed…
by Dana Sweeney, Organizer
If you start asking around for people’s opinions of payday lending in Alabama, the responses will almost all follow along the same lines: that payday lenders are legalized loan sharks, that 456% APR interest rates…
https://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.png00Carla Crowderhttps://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.pngCarla Crowder2018-10-25 17:42:242018-10-25 17:42:24Public Support for Payday Reform Increases in Alabama
by Leah Nelson, researcher and Dana Sweeney, organizer
Payday industry supporters have often claimed that “neither the general public nor the so called ‘poor’ [are] clamoring” for payday lending reform in Alabama.
https://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.png00Carla Crowderhttps://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.pngCarla Crowder2018-06-19 11:40:492018-06-19 11:40:49“How is this not illegal?”
by Leah Nelson, Researcher
In 1972’s Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death penalty schemes that led to arbitrary results - for instance, those that allowed similar offenses committed by similar individuals to lead…
https://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.png00Carla Crowderhttps://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.pngCarla Crowder2018-05-29 08:55:492018-05-29 08:55:49Efforts to Expand Alabama’s Broken Death Penalty System Defeated!
by Dana Sweeney, Organizer
There are more payday lenders and title loan stores in Alabama than hospitals, high schools, movie theaters, and county courthouses combined. Payday lending by itself is a massive industry that harms hundreds of…
https://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.png00Carla Crowderhttps://alabamaappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Web-logo-1.pngCarla Crowder2018-05-07 08:44:212018-05-07 08:44:21Predatory Lending and the Alabama Legislature