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This article was produced in partnership with AL. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The deputy handcuffed Pullom, searched the truck and then took him to the Jefferson County Jail in downtown Birmingham, according to the incident report. Instead, he was charged with failing to possess a piece of laminated paper that identified him as a felon. Violations carry the threat of jail time and fines.
A man in north Alabama served a one-year sentence for failing to register as a felon and obtain a felon registration card. While some other states have felon registration requirements, criminal law professors said they believe Alabama is the only one with a law requiring registration cards. Legal experts say the law is likely unconstitutional and reminiscent of slavery-era restrictions that required black people in many parts of the South to present identification to white people on demand.
Blume, a criminal law professor at Cornell Law School, said via. Repeat felon Derrick Rhodes has a different take. Inhe was arrested in Henry County and charged with failing to possess a felon ID card. Rhodes, 41, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 days of suspended confinement and two years of probation and ordered to pay hundreds of dollars of fees, fines and court costs.
He has since obtained a felon registration card that he carries everywhere he goes.
Beginning in the s, jurisdictions across the U. Many such laws and ordinances have since been invalidated or repealed, but the federal government and individual states have instituted a series of increasingly restrictive sex offender registry laws since the s. And many states and localities across the U. Ina special session of the Alabama Legislature approved the Alabama Felon Registration Act, which instituted the statewide felon registration requirements that remain in place today. From tothere have been arrests in Alabama on state charges of not having a felon ID card and 53 arrests for the separate charge of failure to register with the local sheriff.
Police also made nine arrests of felons who failed to notify the local sheriff of a change of address. Individual law enforcement agencies across the state have reported dozens more arrests on the charges in and this year. As of Julythe U. Public records show that some local jurisdictions in Alabama have additional requirements.
Arrest reports show that people have been charged in recent years in Alabama towns including Gden and Dothan with violating local ordinances requiring felon registration and identification. A limited of places outside Alabama, such as Zanesville, Ohio, and the Borough of Berlin, New Jersey, also have felon identification laws or ordinances on their books. Sometimes people serve serious time for failing to carry their felon IDs. Come on, get out of the car.
It is the only time Tisdale has been arrested in the county, according to state court records. Tisdale pleaded guilty to the charges in October and was sentenced to days in the Marshall County Community Corrections work release program — a residential jail alternative in which inmates earn money to pay down fines, fees and restitution by working for contracted companies.
Tisdale says that while he was at the work release, he worked long hours deboning and loading chickens at a poultry processing plant. In Februaryafter breaking the rules of the community corrections facility and getting into an argument with an employee, Tisdale was moved to the Marshall County Jail, where he served out the remainder of his sentence, court records show. He says that the punishment upended his life. Like each of the criminal law professors interviewed for this story, Pullom said he never knew that Alabama required people with more than two felony convictions to carry registration cards.
He said that he only found out about the requirement when he was arrested for violating it, and that he believes the charge was little more than a pretense to apprehend him. Did I do anything wrong? She added that she does not recall having ever heard of felon registration or ID charges being brought in her division, which is a subsection of the county that does not include Adamsville, where Pullom was arrested.
In the case Lambert v. Californiathe U. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of felon registration. But the U. Supreme Court reversed the California ruling. Johnson School of Public Affairs, said it would be difficult to argue that a year in jail is not a disproportionately harsh punishment for failing to carry a felon ID card.
And cruel and unusual — is there another locality that would sentence you to a year for that? Probably not. Sometimes simply failing to change an address can land a person behind bars. The father of three says that he sold his pickup this winter because he was tired of being pulled over nearly every time he left his trailer park. A self-described former drug addict and petty criminal, he has a rap sheet spanning two decades, during which time he has been convicted of crimes including drug possession, negotiating a worthless instrument and receiving stolen property.
The year-old has also been arrested on two separate occasions for crimes related to felon registration. When he came to the door, he says they informed him they had heard he was the last person seen with a criminal suspect they were trying to find. After searching the area and determining the suspect was not there, Kelsay says one of the deputies ran his name through an electronic system, saw he was a repeat felon and asked him for his felon identification card. Kelsay has been convicted multiple times of different crimes — [felon registration] does help.
What sticks with Kelsay to this day is the idea that he was arrested because the law forever puts him in a separate category. Are you from Alabama? Get in touch. us at [ protected]. Connor Sheets is an investigative reporter at AL. him at [ protected] and follow him on Twitter at ConnorASheets.
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