The kidnapping, assault and murder of Aniah Blanchard on Oct. 23, 2019 has renewed interest in a bill presented last year. Ibraheem Yazeed, who had a violent criminal history, was out on bail for kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder when he allegedly killed Aniah Blanchard.
A constitutional amendment allowing denial of pre-trial bail for people charged with certain violent crimes will be proposed again by Senator Cam Ward to the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 8:30 a.m. The City of Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber and Police Chief Lawrence Battiste, along with several other major city police chiefs, will travel to Montgomery giving their unified support of the constitutional amendment.
Presently, the Constitution of Alabama gives everyone the right to pre-trial bail except in capital cases. The constitutional amendment would provide that bail be denied for criminal defenders on two conditions.
First, bail would not be allowed for anyone charged with a Class A felony offense when the proof of guilt is evident, or the presumption of guilt is great.
Secondly, the amendment would allow bail to be denied if there are no conditions of release that could reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to the accused, the public, or both, or to ensure the presence of the accused at trial.
Once the bill is passed by Alabama Legislature, voters will see the proposed constitutional amendment on the 2020 election ballot.
Last year, the bill was introduced and sponsored by Representative Chip Brown. It was passed by the state House of Representatives but failed in the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee due to lack of a quorum. Representative Brown is expected to reintroduce his constitutional amendment again this session and has the support of the family of Aniah Blanchard. If it passes he intends to call the new law the “Aniah Law.”
Additionally, Senator Cam Ward is holding a press conference concerning the bill at 9:45 a.m. at the State House on Wednesday as well.