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Governor says the need for addressing prison conditions is urgent

Ivey said the prison crisis is not the fault of any one administration, but is due to “decades upon decades of neglect.”

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

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey addressed the Montgomery chapter of the Kiwanis Club about the strong state of the Alabama economy, the need to address prison infrastructure, road upgrades, urging Alabamians to get the COVID-19 vaccine and opposing vaccine mandates by the Biden administration.

Ivey said that recently she has been meeting with members of the Legislature on legislation that is being drafted to address Alabama’s “longstanding and urgent prison issues.”

“We are already under several court orders and the Department of Justice is getting close to intervening” into the state’s prisons, Ivey warned. “The main issue is the simple fact that our prison infrastructure is growing worse day by day and is not capable of rehabilitating prisoners.”

Ivey said that this is not the fault of any one administration, but is due to “decades upon decades of neglect.”

“An Alabama problem is going to get an Alabama solution,” Ivey said.

Ivey said that she is calling the state Legislature back into session on Monday to “deliberate on a plan that will address these decades-old issues to get this done for the state of Alabama.”

“I am confident if we work together and put politics aside we can create an Alabama solution to an Alabama problem,” Ivey said.

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“One of my administration’s main goals over the last 18 months is to get our highways up to speed,” Ivey said. “We are well on our way.”

Our unemployment dropped again last month,” Ivey said. “It is now down to 3.2 percent. We are well on our way to getting where we were before the pandemic.”

“We have had the lowest unemployment in the southeast and our unemployment is lower than the national unemployment rate,” Ivey said. “The Department of Labor tells me that today there are more jobs than before the pandemic.”

The governor also addressed redistricting.

“Thanks to our combined efforts we have retained all seven of our congressional districts,” Ivey said. This also protects our federal dollars, which bring in “$14 billion in a normal year.”

“Despite projections that we would lose a congressional seat, we all came together in true Alabama fashion and proved them wrong,” Ivey said.

“Thanks to the work of Operation Warp Speed, we have an opportunity to end the struggle of the last 18 months and put this behind us,” Ivey said of the COVID-19 vaccine. “The problem is that people are hesitant to get the shots.”

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“The science has proven that these shots are effective,” Ivey said, urging everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine to do so.

“I will not require a mandate to force you to get any vaccine,” Ivey said, on her opposition to vaccine mandates put in place by the Biden administration.

“It is rare that I agree with anything coming recently out of Washington, but Joe Biden in December said that vaccines would not be mandated,” Ivey said. “At his age, he apparently is getting a little forgetful.”

“I question his leadership,” the governor said of the vaccine mandates. “There is no doubt that this overreaching mandate will be challenged in the courts.”

“He is exempting members of Congress and their staffs,” Ivey added, saying that the mandates are a “burden on employers.”

“I support the science,” Ivey said of her support for the COVID-19 vaccine but added, “This kind of mandate is simply not the role of any level of government.”

“We are in a much better position than we were a year ago,” Ivey said. “Alabama is working again. Despite the pandemic, two hurricanes, and some severe tornados we are approaching the record low unemployment we had before the pandemic. We are building back stronger than ever before.”

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Afterward, Ivey spoke to reporters.

One reporter asked why the state was using $1 billion of American Rescue Act money for constructing the new mega prisons rather than for COVID response.

“So we won’t owe as much money,” Ivey replied.

APR asked: Before the pandemic, we has a skilled nursing shortage. Are you concerned that if Alabama hospitals and healthcare providers fire between five and ten percent of our nurses over COVID-19 vaccine mandate that we will have a severe healthcare crisis on our hands?

“That is why I have authorized the traveling nurses program,” Ivey said.

Ivey is expected to authorize two special sessions this fall: the first to address prison reform and the second to address constitutionally required redistricting.

Ivey is running for a second term, with the Republican primary being held on May 24, 2022.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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