By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
GOP Gubernatorial candidate Stacy George has taken a stand against the prison construction plan that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) is lobbying the Legislature to pass.
George, who works as a prison guard for ADOC told The Alabama Political Reporter that the biggest problem facing the State’s prisons is that they are understaffed. While George thinks there is some need for construction he opposes former Governor Robert Bentley’s plan to borrow $845 million.
George, who actually has spent more time working in the prisons that the Bentley political appointee in charge of the prisons, thinks that we should be working harder on rehabilitation of prisoners and decreasing the prison population rather than going deeply in debt to increase the State’s prison capacity.
George said, “At what point does punishment become revenge? Punishment is the job of our criminal justice system. Revenge is God’s job.”
The Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act, SB59, is being carried by state Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and is based on the plan submitted last year as part of then Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) Great State 2020 plan. The bill was rejected by the Legislature in last year’s Legislative session; but was resurrected by Gov. Bentley and ADOC this year. When Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) unexpectedly rose to the Governor’s office she inherited Gov. Bentley’s ADOC leadership team and SB59 which was already in the legislative process. Gov. Ivey endorsed the Bentley plan rather than one of the less costly substitutes that have been offered by George, State Representative Allen Farley (R-McCalla), and State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R).
Former Commissioner George said that that plan, “Is not needed in Alabama and will cause a shaky foundation and dangerous living environments in the near future. Building more prisons when the existing ones are not properly ran,”…….”is a waste of resources and tax payer money.”
George warned the $845 million, “Bond issue will still be a “no bid” process that will cost the state significantly more money.” George has released his own six page alternative plan which he claims addresses the overcrowding without requiring the closing of seventeen existing prison and replacing them with four new mega prisons each housing thousands of hardened criminals as SB59 does.
George said, “As Governor I have a plan to slowly relieve the overcrowding in our prisons without a mass release of the most dangerous offenders.” George said that his plan would. “Reduce the inmate population by offering targeted programs and skills to prevent recidivism.
George is a former Morgan County Commissioner and ran for Governor in the 2014 GOP Primary against incumbent Gov. Robert Bentley. George filed several ethics complaints against Gov. Bentley. The Alabama Ethics Commission ultimately found evidence that there was evidence that Bentley was guilty of the allegations brought against him by George and by State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R). Bentley ultimately resigned after working out a plea agreement with the Alabama Attorney General’s office last month.
SB59, in an earlier $800 million form, was passed by the Senate weeks ago. On Tuesday, May 9, 2017 a House Committee held a public hearing on the controversial prison construction bill and this substitute $849 million plan was offered though no vote was held. A bipartisan coalition of opponents is threatening to filibuster the bill and perhaps the rest of the session if the leadership attempts to bring SB59 to the House floor. If the House passes the substitute it would still have to go back to the Senate to approve the House changes. There are only four Legislative days left and the legislature still has not finished passing the controversial court order redistricting plans yet.
The field for Governor is already getting crowded. Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R), Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington (R), and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R) have all declared that they are candidates for Governor. State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) is exploring possibly running for Governor. Equality activist Chris Countryman is declared as a Democrat. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is also exploring running as a Democrat. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has not ruled out running for office herself.
Undeterred, George is preparing an announcement in Selma on June 13, 2017.