We granted certiorari in this case in order to determine whether Act 80-446 (now codified at Code 1975, § 14-9-41), is violative of either the Alabama Constitution or the United States Constitution.
The salient facts are as follows:
Petitioner Michael Hilsabeck was convicted of robbery in the first degree and rape, and was sentenced to serve two concurrent fifteen-year sentences. Hilsabeck filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the validity of Act 80-446, which denied him the benefit of correctional incentive time, commonly known as "good time." The trial court denied petitioner's writ, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed.
In his petition for writ of certiorari before us, Hilsabeck maintains that the Court of Criminal Appeals, 477 So.2d 465, erred; he asserts the following:
1. Act 80-446 violated Article IV, § 45, of the Alabama Constitution because it contained a provision which broadened the scope of the Act beyond that expressed in the title;
2. Act 80-446 violated Article IV, § 61, of the Alabama Constitution (1901) because an amendment to the Act changed the original purpose of the Act;
3. Act 80-446, on its face, violates the equal protection guarantees of the fourteenth amendment;
4. Act 80-446, as applied to petitioner, violates the equal protection guarantees of the fourteenth amendment, because inmates with sentences of ten or more years who were sentenced after petitioner are receiving the benefit of correctional incentive time;
5. Act 80-446 violates the due process guarantees of the fourteenth amendment.
We are of the opinion that petitioner's assertions that Act 80-446 violates the Alabama Constitution are not meritorious. Similarly, petitioner's contentions with regard to the United States Constitution (Issues 3, 4, and 5) are also without merit. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Petitioner's first argument is that Act 80-446 violates Article IV, § 45, of the Alabama Constitution, which provides in pertinent part:
The title to Act 80-446, followed by the pertinent portions of the Act are as follows:
"Be It Enacted by the Legislature of Alabama:
Petitioner contends that, upon reading the title, one could reasonably conclude that the Act establishes criteria for granting incentive good time to all inmates, with the exception of habitual offenders, but that the body of the Act provides that inmates serving ten years or more in prison would also be ineligible for deductions in their sentences. In short, he contends that the title indicates that all inmates except habitual offenders are eligible for incentive time, but that the body of the Act excludes many others, i.e., those serving sentences of ten years or more in prison.
Before we discuss petitioner's specific claim regarding § 45 of the Constitution, we deem it instructive to set out the purpose of § 45 and the guidelines for determining whether that section has been violated by the legislature.
In Knight v. West Alabama Environmental Improvement Authority, 287 Ala. 15, 246 So.2d 903 (1971), then-Chief Justice Heflin, with seven members of this Court concurring, spelled out the purpose of § 45 of the Alabama Constitution, and the guidelines for applying that section when construing legislative enactments. He wrote:
"This Court in Yielding v. State ex rel. Wilkinson, 232 Ala. 292, 167 So. 580, held that a statute has but one subject, no matter to how many different matters it relates if they are all cognate, and but different branches of the same subject." 287 Ala. at 22, 246 So.2d at 908. (Emphasis added.)
The purpose of Act No. 80-446 is "clearly expressed" as one to establish the "Alabama Corrections Incentive Time Act." That alone states that the legislation deals with "good time" for prison inmates. The next two clauses in the title, respectively, state that the Act establishes "certain criteria" for "earned deductions" and creates "classifications for measurement of such deductions and eligibility therefor." (Emphasis added.) That language clearly expresses that the body of the Act will spell out which inmates will and which inmates will not be eligible for earning incentive time. We cannot conclude, therefore, as petitioner suggests, that the legislature, by specifically mentioning in the title "habitual offenders" thereby was required to mention other groups who would also be ineligible.
Clearly, the title to the Act is not "so misleading and uncertain that the average legislator or person reading the same would not be informed of the purpose of the enactment." Opinion of the Justices, 294 Ala. 571, 319 So.2d 699 (1975). We are not here faced with a factual situation like that presented in Alabama Educ. Ass'n v. Bd. of Trustees of the University of Alabama, 374 So.2d 258 (Ala.1979), where this Court held that the Education Appropriation Budget Act violated § 45 because a "dues check off" provision appeared in the Act, but was not mentioned in the title.
In a related argument, petitioner asserts that the Act violates Article IV, Section 61, of the Alabama Constitution. Section 61 provides:
It is well established in Alabama that "purpose" as used in Section 61 of the Constitution means "general purpose," Union Oil Company of California v. Eagerton, 426 So.2d 814 (Ala.1982). In Opinion of the Justices, 383 So.2d 527, 528 (Ala. 1980), it was written that "the `purpose' of a bill within the section has been held to mean its general purpose, not mere details through which its purpose is manifested and effectuated." (Emphasis in original.) Petitioner claims that the original Act provided that all inmates except habitual offenders were to be classified and receive correctional incentive time, and that an amendment which made inmates serving sentences of ten years or more also ineligible, changed the "purpose" of the Act.
We hold that the amendment to the bill did not change the original purpose of the bill. Blackwell v. State, 230 Ala. 139, 162 So. 310 (1935); Comer v. City of Mobile, 337 So.2d 742 (Ala.1976) (State Ethics Law bill enlarged without changing the original purpose).
Based on the foregoing, we are of the opinion that the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is due to be, and it is hereby, affirmed.
TORBERT, C.J., and ALMON, SHORES, BEATTY and HOUSTON, JJ., concur.
ADAMS, J., dissents, with whom FAULKNER and JONES, JJ., concur.
ADAMS, Justice (dissenting).
I respectfully dissent. I disagree with the majority's holding that Article IV, § 45, of the Alabama Constitution has not been violated in this case. As the majority correctly points out, § 45 was enacted in order to protect against the legislature's being misled by a title of a bill which does not clearly express its subject. After reading the entire title of the bill involved in this case, and not just the first three clauses, which are the focus of the majority opinion, one could reasonably believe that all inmates would be classified so as to receive some degree of earned deductions
Id. at 262. Without reading the text of the bill and only reading the title, one would never know that the bill effectively allows correctional incentive time to only a minority of inmates now serving time in prison.
I must also dissent from the majority's holding that Article IV, § 61, of the Alabama Constitution was not violated. The purpose of the Act, stated succintly, is to establish a system whereby inmates receive earned deductions from sentences. The original bill in the Senate would have achieved that result, as those inmates with sentences of ten or more years could have earned incentive time in both Class II and Class III, and would have been ineligible only from attaining Class I status. The Act as passed with amendment, however, rather than providing each inmate with the opportunity to earn incentive time, denied those inmates with sentences of ten or more years the opportunity to earn any deductions from their sentences. It is clear to me from a reading of the entire title that the purpose of the Act was to establish a system for the measurement and award of correctional incentive time, and to exclude only habitual offenders from earning such incentive time. I fail to see how a bill can be amended to so drastically alter its effect on a majority of this State's inmates, without there being a change in its original purpose.
FAULKNER and JONES, JJ., concur.