Drug Offenders Must Get Treatment Before Parole

Montgomery, AL – The state's streamlined parole process is having an unforeseen effect on drug offenders. State officials say there's a waiting list of about seven thousand inmates for drug treatment. And, that's keeping some of them from winning parole. Parole hearings are coming up faster for drug offenders and other nonviolent inmates because the state is trying to relieve prison overcrowding. But the state Board of Pardons and Paroles will not free a prisoner who has not made an effort to complete drug rehab. State officials say the corrections system needs more programs, staff and resources to address substance abuse issues. Despite the delays, Cynthia Dillard -- the board's assistant executive director -- says every eligible prisoner serving time on a nonviolent crime will have a parole board hearing this year.