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Committee member questions if new prisons will alleviate overcrowding

The new prison facilities are intended to replace smaller and older facilities.

Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County, near the site of one of Alabama's new prisons.
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On Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner gave an update on the department’s operations to the Joint Prison Oversight Committee.

ADOC Commissioner Jon Hamm detailed the progress of two new mega prisons, including one in Elmore County that the state allocated over 1 billion to build. Hamm showed several slides of current construction, including a medical facility, water towers and housing facilities. The facility is about 25 percent complete, according to Hamm.

The new prison facilities are intended to replace smaller and older facilities. But Rep. Jim Hill, R-Odenville, questioned whether the facilities would fix the overcrowding issues rampant within the prisons. 

“I guess what I am struggling with is how we are going to close facilities that can house 5,000 people when we have 20,000 in prison,” Hill said.

ADOC’s statistical report from January 2024 revealed that over 20,000 individuals were incarcerated. One facility responsible for intake, Kilby Correctional Facility, will be closed and have its responsibilities moved to the Elmore facility.

“I’m questioning how we’re going to close facilities when we end up with a situation that we’re going to have the same overcrowding percentage that we’re going to have now,” Hill said. 

Hill also asked Hamm about coordinating with the parole board as Gov. Kay Ivey allocated funds for drug rehabilitation programs for ADOC. Part of the problem with overcrowding is the lack of individuals being granted parole.

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Hill said that ADOC should be communicating with the parole board that individuals who complete the drug rehabilitation programs are eligible for parole.

Hill asked Hamm if there was any agreement between the two departments. Hamm responded saying, “there is no agreement between the Department of Corrections and the Department of Parole.”

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

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