Solution to state prison system issue may wait until 2018

Solution to state prison system issue may wait until 2018

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A court ordered fix to the state prison system may have to wait until 2018.

Lawmakers say a special session on the state prison system is unlikely, despite a federal judge's ruling that the prison system's mental health care is unconstitutional.

The court order did not give a deadline to find a fix, only specifying that the issue needs to be resolved. Lawmakers do not want to rush a decision; they are going to wait on the two sides involved in the court case to see if they can come up with a solution.

"There are problems we must address," said Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery. "We cannot just continue to kick the can down the road and these are the questions we get elected for, those types of problems."

Lawmakers are looking to address the prison issue when they return for the 2018 legislative session.

"I think it is a must from what I'm hearing," Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Autauga, said. "From what I'm hearing from leadership is that they have already started to get together and the process has started as far as throwing ideas down, but the idea is they do not want to overreact."

Any solution to the prison system will require more mental health care workers. Sen. Cam Ward, R-District 14, says that would cost the state somewhere around $25 million. Lawmakers would need to raise that money during an election year.

"It's going to impact the budget, the question is how much, and where do you get the money from?" said Ward.

Historically, lawmakers have shied away from controversial issues and raising revenue during election years.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.