Gov. Bentley, SPLC hold opposite views on AL prison bill - Montgomery Alabama news.

Gov. Bentley, SPLC hold opposite views on AL prison bill

(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)

Gov. Robert Bentley and the Southern Poverty Law Center are not seeing eye-to-eye on legislation that would build several new prisons in Alabama. Thursday, the Alabama Senate passed a third version of a prison bill that will now go to the House for its approval.

Bentley praises the legislation:

“Today Alabama took a step in the right direction to solve a decades old problem facing the Alabama Department of Corrections. I commend the Alabama Senate for their work on the passage of the Prison Transformation Initiative.  I understand this bill is a work in progress and my ultimate goal remains the same, and that is to have safe and modern facilities that solve the persistent overcrowding of our prisons that will protect our law enforcement officers and inmates, as well prepare the inmates to successfully transition back into our communities. If we are to truly transform the person, we must first transform the system. As this legislation moves to the House, I look forward to working with House members to pass the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative.”

The SPLC is not in favor of the legislation:

"The new prison building bill that passed the Senate today is extremely problematic and too expensive. Building these mega-prisons will not solve the serious problems facing the prison system: the violence, the chronic understaffing, and the lack of adequate health care. We all agree that many facilities need renovating, and in some cases replacing, but we shouldn’t move forward with an expensive construction project without a comprehensive strategy to overhaul the prison system and the criminal justice policies that helped create this crisis. Worse, this bill incentivizes counties to build new prisons, while keeping existing state facilities operational. The new price tag for these packed prisons could eventually total more than the $800 million originally proposed. Alabamians deserve transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility. This bill provides none of that."

Bentley had proposed an $800 million plan that would build four new mega-prisons, paid for over time by closing several older, smaller facilities. The bill that passed the Senate is considerably smaller, allowing for three prisons to be built, two of which would have to be built by local communities or groups through a lease-to-own agreement. 

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