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Officials raise spending cap on new Elmore County prison to nearly $1 billion

In a contract signed last year, the expected cost to build the new 4,000-bed prison in Elmore County was $623 million.

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In a contract signed last year, the expected cost to build a new 4,000-bed prison in Elmore County was $623 million. But the Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority Wednesday approved raising that cap to $975 million.

The authority includes Gov. Kay Ivey and State Finance Director Bill Poole in addition to state legislators and others.

“The early estimates were based on a very preliminary design,” Poole said. “The design is still not 100 percent complete. We increased educational and vocational space. Inflation has had a significant impact on construction costs as is seen across all economic sectors. So, we’re trying to keep all of those costs contained to the greatest extent possible.”

The 2021 plan to build two 4,000-bed prisons totaled $1.3 billion, including $400 million in funding from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars. A 2022 contract with Caddell Construction Co, set the “initial guaranteed maximum price” at $623 million for the Elmore County facility.

Poole said costs have also ballooned as the state works to ensure the new facility complies with court orders in the state’s longstanding lawsuit over prison conditions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Negotiations are ongoing in the design phase for the other mega-prison in Escambia County, Poole said.

Both facilities are expected to be operational by 2026.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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