Alabamians Who Care will be leading a protest caravan to the Governor’s Mansion to protest Gov. Kay Ivey’s controversial plan for the Alabama Department of Corrections to sign a lease agreement to build four massive new prisons, the group said Thursday.
The groups said in a statement that Alabamians who care about people incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections will caravan to the Governor’s Mansion in solidarity against building new mega-prisons.
The event is organized by Alabamians Who Care and persons who claim that they are directly impacted individuals and organizations. The participants will gather on Saturday, Aug. 1 at 11 am at Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church located at 860 Grove Street in Montgomery.
The group said that the caravan will depart the church at 11:30 am and drive in solidarity to the Governor’s Mansion to raise a collective voice against new prison construction and to honor the record number of lives lost as a result of the unconstitutionally dangerous “cruel and unusual” conditions “that have been allowed to fester” under ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn and other state leaders.
“Our message is not one more,” said Veronica Johnson, one of the event organizers. “Not one more prison, not one more death, and not one more day with a parole board and ADOC leadership that only wants to keep our loved ones locked up. All eyes are on Alabama, and we do not want prison brutality to be our legacy.”
Dunn said that the new prisons are needed to reduce prison overcrowding, currently at 155 percent. Dunn said that Alabama’s 26 existing prisons are near the end of their productive lives and that it would be cheaper for the state to build new prison facilities than to renovate prisons built in the 1950s and 1960s to modern standards.
On July 23, the U.S. Department of Justice released its final report in an investigation that began in 2016 into unsafe and abusive conditions inside Alabama prisons. The DOJ concluded that the Alabama Department of Corrections violates the Constitutional rights of incarcerated people through the use of systemic excessive force, as well as unsafe conditions due to prison overcrowding.
Advocates for the new prisons, including Gov. Ivey, maintain that building new prisons is the number one need that Alabama state government faces today. The plan calls for signing a 40-year public-private partnership lease agreement with a private consortium who will build and maintain the prisons. At the end of the 40 years, the state would still not own the prisons.