Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.  I looked into the on-going complaints over how Alabama judges sentence people to death.  

Lyric and Alabama Theaters
Joe de Sciose

The Alabama House of Representatives approved Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery last night by an extremely tight margin.

Representatives voted 64-35 for the bill late last night, barely clearing the 63 votes required to clear the 105-seat House. The vote came after 10 hours of back-and-forth debate and two vote attempts.

Lottery supporters cheered in the House as newly-elected Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the bill's eventual success.

Federal aviation investigators say a pilot told air traffic controllers that fuel pumps aboard the plane were failing before it plunged to the ground and caught fire near Tuscaloosa, killing six people from Mississippi.

A preliminary report on the crash released this morning by the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilot reported one fuel pump failure.  After that, when he was a few miles from Tuscaloosa's airport, reported that the plane lost "the other fuel pump."

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he believes a November lottery referendum is no longer possible, but is seeking an opinion from the attorney general's office.

Merrill believes the law is clear that today is the deadline for Alabama Lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment and addit on the November ballot.  They missed that deadline.

APR airs the first part of our ongoing series on prison and justice reform tomorrow. I'll report on how Alabama is the only U.S. state that allows judges to overrule a jury's recommendation of life in prison, and go for the death penalty. Click here for Birmingham attorney Richard Jaffe. He represented Randall Padgett, whose judge overrode the jury. Padgett was later exonerated. Pat D.

http://goo.gl/EPdxzg

Alabama Senators will be debating how to divvy up the state’s portion of oil spill settlement money amid a looming hole in the Medicaid budget.

The Alabama Senate is expected to take up the settlement bill today. A version of the legislation passed the House last week. Debate on the Senate floor could get contentious, though, as Senators can’t seem to agree on how much money should help Medicaid and how much should go toward road projects on the Alabama coast.

Governor Robert Bentley is sending assistance to protect the U.S. Border. APR Student reporter Parker Branton reports…

Governor Robert Bentley approved a notion that will send Alabama National Guard helicopter and pilot to Marana, Arizona to assist with protecting the U.S. border with Mexico.

This is the second time this year that Alabama National Guard has sent assistance to the Southwest Border Team.

A legislative committee will hold a public hearing later today on a lottery bill that narrowly passed the state Senate last week.

The House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee will hold a hearing this afternoon on the proposal to amend the state’s constitution to establish a state lottery. Senators approved the bill Friday on a 21 to 12 vote.

Residents of a southwest Alabama town where five people were slain are trying to raise money to help the victims' families pay funeral expenses.

Authorities say 27-year-old Derrick Dearman of Leakesville, Mississippi killed five people at a house where his estranged girlfriend has sought refuge from him.  The bodies were found Saturday.

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