Helping Families Initiative

The People of the Helping Families Initiative help students suspended from school for truancy or other destructive behaviors build productive futures while improving all students’ safety and learning environment.  

We do this with in-depth family assessments that identify the root causes of these destructive behaviors.  Our Inter-Agency Teams plan and deliver combinations of services that meet individual and family needs.  We communicate human and statistical results to the public and other stakeholders.

Many of the inmates of the Alabama prison system began criminal careers with juvenile crime.

In January, 2014, Alabama’s prisons had more than 26,600 inmates with only 13,300 beds. The Alabama Department of Correction’s budget for 2015 was $400 million. For 2016 it is almost $500 million. Alabama prisons were described as “training camps for crime, especially young offenders” by the Alabama Supreme Court.

According to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, 173,916 crimes were reported in Alabama in 2013. These crimes resulted in 28,909 arrests for homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. The value of property stolen was $245,853,680.

Alabama Rule of Criminal Procedure 28 provides extended comments on the need for judges to strongly consider alternatives to prison when sentencing persons convicted of crimes. Committee Commends to Rule 26.8 declare that, “Prisons serve as training camps for crime, especially young offenders.”

Ken Seeley observes: two-thirds of truant students will not graduate with their peers and will be charged with a criminal offense within two years (of persistent truancy). Data indicates that juvenile crime actually peaks during school hours when truant students are out of school and unsupervised.

Bonnie M. Smith
HFI Director
(251) 275-3144 

District Attorney’s Responsibility

Every child between the ages of six and 17 is required to attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a private tutor certified by the state of Alabama for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic subject under the compulsory attendance law… 

Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-3, 16-28-1, 16-28-7

The purposes of this article are to secure the prompt and regular attendance of pupils and to secure their proper conduct, and to hold the parent, guardian or other person in charge or control of a child responsible and liable for such child’s nonattendance and improper conduct as a pupil…

Code of Alabama 1975 Section 16-28-2

The district attorney shall vigorously enforce this section to ensure proper conduct and required attendance by any child enrolled in public school.

Code of Alabama 1975 Section 16-28-12(c)