Section 12-25-34

Development and adoption of the voluntary sentencing standards.

(a) Statewide voluntary sentencing standards shall be developed and presented to the Legislature in stages over a three-year period as follows:

(1) By July 31, 2003, the commission shall develop and distribute to all sentencing judges a reference manual analyzing historical sentencing practices by duration of sentence and disposition of felony offenders in Alabama. The reference manual shall indicate those types of offenders historically most likely to be sentenced to punishments other than active incarceration where alternatives to active incarceration are available.

(2) Concurrently with the development and distribution of the reference manual, the commission shall develop and begin testing worksheets and voluntary sentencing standards in selected circuits for selected felony offenses.

(3) The commission shall develop and present the initial voluntary sentencing standards to the Legislature before or during the 2006 Regular Session. These standards shall be introduced in the 2006 Regular Session and shall become effective on October 1 following the 2006 Regular Session, if approved by an act of the Legislature passed during that session. The initial voluntary sentencing standards based on sentences imposed shall apply to convictions for felony offenses sentenced on or after October 1, 2006, and committed before the effective date of the voluntary truth-in-sentencing standards.

(4) The commission shall develop and present truth-in-sentencing standards to the Legislature before or during the 2020 Regular Session. These standards shall be introduced in the 2020 Regular Session and shall become effective on October 1 following the 2020 Regular Session, if approved by an act of the Legislature. The voluntary truth-in-sentencing standards shall apply only to felony offenses committed on or after the effective date of these standards.

(b) Recommended sentence ranges shall be established by standards that are based on historical sentencing practices, adjusted to achieve sentencing goals as established in Rule 26 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, this chapter, and Section 12-25-31.

(c) Voluntary sentencing standards shall take into account and include statewide historically based sentence ranges, including all applicable statutory minimums and sentence enhancement provisions, including the Habitual Felony Offender Act, with adjustments made to reflect current sentencing policies. No additional penalties pursuant to any sentence enhancement statute shall apply to sentences imposed based on the voluntary sentencing standards.

(d) Commencing with the 2013 Regular Session, any modifications to the initial voluntary sentencing standards made by the commission shall be contained in the annual report presented to the Governor, the Legislature, the Chief Justice, and the Attorney General. An annual report containing proposed modifications shall be presented to the Governor, the Legislature, the Chief Justice, and the Attorney General at least forty-five days prior to each regular session of the Legislature. The modifications presented for nonviolent offenses shall become effective on October 1 following the legislative session in which the modifications were presented unless rejected by an act of the Legislature enacted by bill during the legislative session. The modifications presented for violent offenses shall become effective on October 1 following the legislative session in which the modifications were presented, if approved by an act of the Legislature enacted by bill during the legislative session in which the modifications were presented.

(Act 2003-354, p. 948, §5; Act 2006-312, p. 663, §3; Act 2009-742, p. 2220, §1; Act 2012-473, p. 1304, §1.)