- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Senate will debate sweeping changes to sentencing and probation standards to try relieving overcrowding in state prisons. 

Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster will bring the bill to the Senate floor Thursday. 

The legislation is the product of a year of work by a state prison reform task force. Among other changes, the proposal creates a new Class D felony level to try keeping low-level drug and property offenders out of prison. 

Alabama prisons house nearly twice the number of inmates they were originally designed to hold. Ward said the proposed changes are aimed at bringing crowding down to a level the courts would find acceptable. 

Senators say debate on the bill could be lengthy.

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