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State announces final four companies vying to build Alabama’s new prisons

Eddie Burkhalter

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Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced the names of the four companies selected to move forward in a plan to build three new prisons. 

Those four companies will move on to the request for proposal stage, each vying to build one or more of the three prisons, which the state has estimated will cost around $900 million. 

The companies moving to the next phase are: 

Alabama Prison Transformation Partners – Partnership including B.L. Harbert International and Star America. 

CoreCivic – Based in Nashville. One of the two largest private prison companies in the U.S. 

Corvias – Rhode Island-based provider of housing for students and U.S. military service members. 

GEO Group – Florida-based private prison company. Either manages or owns 133 facilities across the U.S. and in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

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“I appreciate the hard work conducted by the RFQ evaluation committee and am pleased with the integrity of this procurement process,” Ivey said in a statement Tuesday. “The revitalization of prisons in Alabama is crucial, and this plan to improve the state’s infrastructure is a major step towards reduced recidivism and improved public safety. I am committed to propelling this plan forward.”

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Representatives from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) and Alabama Department of Finance reviewed statements of qualification from all four of those companies and a fifth, Corrections Consultants LLC, which expressed interest but won’t make it to the next phase. 

“The Governor’s Office, my staff, and project team are pleased with the qualified developer teams and look forward to the review of their proposals this spring,” said ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn in a statement. “This development of three new prisons is a key focus of our strategic effort to reduce staffing shortages and crowding, improve working conditions for our officers, increase safety, and provide facility infrastructure for enhanced educational and vocational programs. We are confident that this foundational element of our multi-faceted solution will allow for positive and transformational change within the ADOC.”

Ivey’s office and the ADOC have previously declined to name the companies behind Alabama Prison Transformation Partners, an entity with no online presence and one not registered in any state. APR was able to confirm two of the companies in the partnership. 

Ivey’s statement includes three other companies partnering in Alabama Prison Transformation Partners, which include Texas-based construction firm Butler-Cohen, Arrington Watkins Architects in Arizona and the international HVAC, security system and fire equipment company Johnson Controls. It was unclear Tuesday if other individuals or entities are also a part of Alabama Prison Transformation Partners. 

The state faces the possibility of a federal takeover of its prisons, which are plagued with violence and overcrowding, problems detailed in a report in April by the U.S. Department of Justice, which found that Alabma may be in violation of prisoners’ Constitutional rights. 

The Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative released a report earlier this month that labels Alabama’s prisons as the deadliest in the nation. The nonprofit and other criminal justice reform advocates have cautioned the state against spending $900 million on new prisons without addressing the violent culture inside the existing facilities. 

ADOC commissioner Dunn told APR earlier this month that his administration is spearheading transformational change to address the longstanding challenges. Dunn said the state continues to work to increase prison staffing, contraband removal and improvements to rehabilitation programming. 

Details about which current prisons are to be closed, or where the new prisons might be built, haven’t been disclosed. 

The ADOC expects to receive proposals from the four contenders in the spring of 2020, according to the statement.

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