Different priorities face lawmakers in upcoming special session on prisons

Alabama News

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Time is running out for the state of Alabama to find a solution to its prison problem.

But what Governor Ivey calls an Alabama problem needing an Alabama solution may get just that next week when lawmakers head to Montgomery for a special session to solve the state’s prison crisis.

“The heat is being turned up on us slowly and we need to go ahead and take this step to construct new prisons,” said State Senator Chris Elliot, who represents Baldwin County.

Elliot believes when lawmakers go into special session next week, they have a prison construction plan that will work.

“We will see construction start very soon,” Elliot said. “Likely two different facilities one in Escambia County and one in Elmore County. Very large facilities, four thousand beds apiece and this first phase is a bed replacement plan.”

The bigger issue for House minority leader Representative Anthony Daniels from Huntsville is prison reform.

“If you look at the federal court case it doesn’t just address facilities,” said Daniels. “It addresses conditions. It addresses many other things that focus on reform.”

Both parties head into the special session with different priorities.

“The concern is always from the Democrat side the reform,” said Elliott. “Sentencing reforms and letting folks out of jail, and that’s just not something that I think that we really need to be talking about in this special session.”

“Making certain they are having conversations about solving the problem not putting a band-aid over the problem because we can’t build our way out of it,” said Daniels.

The price tag on the new prison construction plan is $1.25 billion. That money would come from the state’s general fund, federal coronavirus relief funds and the remainder in a bond issue.

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