Alabama State Senator Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, has proposed an alternate prison construction bill that would create a smaller facility, which he said would save state taxpayer money.
“My goal is to have the smaller facility, which I think will be safer,” Beasley said in an interview with APR Wednesday evening. “And will also be a cost-saving to the taxpayers of Alabama.”
Beasley said, along with the size of new facilities, he was concerned over how the facilities in his district were being treated.
Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs, Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, and Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio lay within Beasley’s District 28, between Barbour and Bullock counties.
The bill, submitted Tuesday, would create two new correctional facilities within Elmore and Escambia counties, each holding up to 3,000 people. One new women’s prison would also replace Julia Tutwiler Prison with a new capacity of 750. The current prison construction bill, sponsored by State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, would lead to the construction of new prisons with capacities of 4,000.
“The capacity of the House Bill 4 was 4,000 inmates, but it could be more,” Beasley said. “In my version, it could be no more than 3,000. And I think it’s a cost savings for the taxpayers of Alabama.”
The bill would also improve and renovate the three prisons within his district and facilities in Jefferson and Limestone counties.
According to the bill, $20 million in funds for maintenance would also be transferred to the Corrections Facilities Maintenance Fund for use in maintaining all prisons.
“That’s one thing that causes a problem, because we have not appropriated money for maintenance of existing prisons, and that’s one reason they’ve decayed a little bit,” Beasley said. “You have to take care of the sites, and that’s the responsibility of the [Department of Corrections].”
According to Beasley, Elmore would be completed first, followed by Escambia and the new women’s facility.
Beasley said that, in researching prisons in surrounding states, larger prisons tend to be more violent.
“The majority of the correctional facilities in those states are smaller,” Beasley said, mentioning studies done on the SCI Phoenix facility in Pennsylvania supporting that larger prisons are more violent. “The larger the facility, the more dangerous it is. So, the smaller facility is much safer.”
“My goal is to have smaller facility, which I think will be safe. And will also be a cost-saving to the taxpayers of Alabama.”
The bill is expected to be considered at the Senate General Fund committee meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday.