Ivey calls for special prison session

Prison Legislation

By WVUA Digital Reporter Anneliese Taggart

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey isn’t waiting until the next legislative session to get a prison construction bill passed. Instead, she’s calling a special session that begins Sept. 27.

Ivey’s plan calls for building three new prisons, including a 4,000-bed prison in Elmore County, a 4,000-bed prison in Escambia County, and a new women’s prison that will replace the aging Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Elmore County.

The new Elmore County men’s prison would include special facilities for medical and mental health care. Within a year of the prisons’ openings, the state will close the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Center in Marion County, Elmore Correctional Center and Stanton Correctional Facility in Elmore County and Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery County.

Money for all the construction will come from a $785 million bond issue, $400 million from federal COVID-19 relief funds and about $150 million from the state General Fund.

State Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa said the state’s prisons are long overdue for expansion and updates.

“The federal judges have been looking closely at how we treat inmates that have abuse issues, drug issues or mental health issues,” Allen said. “Those are some real concerns of the federal judges that have brought the suit against Alabama so that’s one of the things that we’re really focused on.”

Ivey and her administration have been working on a plan for weeks. A plan for constructing a trio of privately owned prisons and then having the state lease them fell through.

On Tuesday, Ivey and several other lawmakers toured the Perry County Correctional Facility, which would be used as a treatment facility. Allen said he expects the special session will last about five days.

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