BENTLEY PRISON CONSTRUCTION BILL HEADS TO FIRST VOTE

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Gov. Robert Bentley’s prison construction plan is getting its first test in the Alabama Legislature.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate the proposal Wednesday following a public hearing.

The governor is proposing to an $800 million bond issue to finance the construction of three new large regional prisons for men and one new prison for women. Most existing prisons would close.

Bentley in his State of the State address last month said overcrowding and understaffing had proven a “deadly combination” within prison walls.

State prisons hold nearly twice the number of inmates they were originally designed to house.

The proposal is expected to face tough questions from lawmakers regarding prison system projections that consolidation savings can pay the cost of the bond issue.

Similar legislation failed in 2016.

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