Aniah’s Law hits November ballot

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A new Alabama constitutional amendment is set to be on the ballots of the Nov. 8 election. Known as Aniah’s law, the new amendment would give judges the choice to deny bail to people accused of violent crimes.

The new legislation is named for Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old college student from Southern Union Community College who was kidnapped and murdered in October 2019. The suspect, Ibraheed Yazeed, was out on bond at the time for charges of kidnapping and attempted murder when he kidnapped Blanchard at a gas station in the Auburn area. Blanchard’s body was found in Macon County one month after her disappearance.

Currently, Section 16 of the 1901 Constitution of Alabama requires that “all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great; and that excessive bail shall not, in any case, be required.”

If approved by voters this coming November, the new law would give district attorneys the ability to say that the defendant is going to be a violent threat to the community and thus request a hearing to deny bail. This would be applicable in cases where the defendant is charged with a Class A felony. Examples of Class A felony offenses include murder, kidnapping of the 1st degree, rape of the 1st degree, robbery of the 1st degree and arson of the 1st degree.

Randy Price, Alabama State Senate District 13 representative, noted that he fully supported the law and hoped that it would further assist law enforcement.

“It was a tragedy what happened to Aniah, and we wanted to make sure nothing like that happens again,” Price said. “This new law gives law enforcement another tool to work with, and I think that is the case of any law that develops from a tragedy such as this one.”

For the proposed amendment to go into effect, the majority of Alabama voters will have to vote in support of the law in the November general election.