Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Legislature

Ivey tells lawmakers she’ll set special session for prison construction

The special session is set for Sept. 27.

Gov. Kay Ivey (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday sent a letter to lawmakers to inform them that next week she’ll officially set a special legislative session to debate construction of new prisons, to begin Sept. 27.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions tell APR that Republicans are united in agreement on the proposal, and that while Democrats haven’t firmly committed, they’re likely to agree. Those sources say they hope to conclude the special session in one week.

A draft of the bill lays out a plan to build a specialized 4,000-bed men’s prison in Elmore County, another 4,000-bed men’s prison in Escambia County, a new women’s prison and renovations to four existing prisons,

A bond issuance of up to $785 million would pay for phase one of the planned construction, which includes both new prisons for men. Phase two comprises of construction of the new women’s prison, to replace the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, and renovations of prisons in Limestone and Jefferson counties, and renovations of one prison in either Barbour or Bullock counties. 

Some lawmakers are also hoping the state can use $400 million in federal CARE Act funds to help pay for the projects. 

The U.S. Department of Justice in December filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections, alleging violations of inmates’ constitutional rights to protection from prisoner-on-prisoner violence, sexual abuse and excessive force by prison guards.

In previously released reports, the Justice Department detailed systemic problems of abuse from guards, corruption, rampant drug use, violence, overcrowding and understaffing in Alabama’s prisons. The DOJ in those reports states that while new prison facilities might help in some areas, new buildings won’t fully address the state’s widespread, deadly problems in its prisons.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Ivey’s plan to lease new prisons from a private prison company fell through when that company, CoreCivic, was unable to secure financing. Ivey could call a special session for lawmakers to consider the prison construction proposal. The regular session begins Jan. 11.

Prison construction will be the focus of this special session, those sources tell APR, and any other reform measures that could address the DOJ’s concerns about Alabama’s deadly prisons will likely have to be debated in another session. 

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

More from the Alabama Political Reporter

Featured Opinion

Ivey has been outspoken about wanting to fix the gambling problem in this state. Now is the time.

News

The grant comes from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice.

State

Every state agency will be required to have a public records page, and will not be allowed to charge per-page fees on electronic documents.

Infrastructure

The state estimates the new infrastructure will connect 55,000 households and businesses to high-speed internet access.

Featured Opinion

Real school choice is an excellent idea. But what's being pushed by the right isn't school choice, it's segregation.

Health

A crisis center is a location to serve those with mental illness or substance use disorders.

Governor

Among other things, the order specifies that employers should allow religious expression to the same extent as other personal expression.

State

Each appointment is effective immediately.