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Breathless Over Prisons

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, Governor Robert Bentley, and a cast of other lawmakers and bureaucrats, have suddenly realized the need to build new prisons and build them now.

In the spirit of President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” the Governor and others are exploiting the recent troubles at Holman prison to gin up support.

Like breathless actors in a B movie sex scene or a slasher flick the words, “right now,” “oh, yes, yes, yes,” and “run for your lives, prisoners with knives” are on the lips of everyone with a chip in the game.

The voters of the State are the ones who should be hyperventilating, because anytime the government says it must move quickly, it means they are playing fast and loose with the facts.

It raises a simple serious question: “Who profits?”

Acting Finance Director, Bill Newton, warned the Senate F&TG committee that if the prisons were not built under Design-build, then it would cost an additional $100,000, 000 and take another year. Since no one will explain how the State arrived at the $800 million in the first place or what exactly it will buy, how can anyone verify Newton’s claims?

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One thing of which the voters of Alabama should be made aware, especially in he next election cycle, is that our State is being run by tax and spend, borrow and spend Republicans.

These so-called conservatives used to rail against tax and spend liberals. Now that they hold the reins of power, they have not only raised taxes, they are piling up debt for generations to come.

Do we need to address prison overcrowding? Yes. Absolutely. Is the answer forcing $800 million in debt on working families, and on our children’s children, right now?

Here at the Alabama Political Reporter we have a saying: “You can have it right, or you can have it right now, but you can have both.”

The question of whether the State should plunge into enormous debt without adequate information on the details of the prison project is one that no one seems to be asking, and certainly, there is no rational explanation except, “I want it. Give it to me, or the monsters will eat you.”


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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