Could we see a lottery proposal to help fund prisons?

State lawmakers have urged the governor to call a special session to help fix Alabama’s prison problems.
Updated: Jun. 11, 2019 at 9:41 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s prisons have been grossly underfunded for years and lawmakers need to make reforms to avoid a federal takeover.

The Department of Justice told the state in a scathing report that it needs to fix the overcrowding, violence and under staffing problems.

“The question is are we going to be able to come up with more income or revenue or are we going to have to take from other agencies to get this done," said Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

State lawmakers have urged the governor to call for a special session to come up with solutions to the problem. Some lawmakers believe a lottery is still on the table.

“So I think you’re going to have to look at options and I think the lottery is one of them," Marsh said.

Lawmakers did not pass the paper-based lottery proposal this session. 75 percent of the money would have gone to the general fund budget with 25 percent to the education budget. This caused a rift between lawmakers, with many wanting majority, if not all of the money, allotted for education.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, is a leader in prison reform. He said it is unlikely a lottery proposal could come up during the special session.

“You’re right back to square one,” he said. “The same argument as to why it died in the House and barely passed in the Senate was because it’s not all going to education. I don’t know what has changed to make it pass this time as opposed to before.”

Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said there could be a lottery proposal during a possible special session for prisons. He did not support the most recent proposal because it did not allow for electronic bingo at places like Greenetrack.

“I think it still has to be a good lottery bill," said Singleton. "I think we’re all for the lottery. It just needs to be a lottery bill that makes sense. A lottery bill that everybody can participate in.”

Gov. Kay Ivey has not said if there would be a special session for prisons. A spokesperson with the office said Ivey has made a commitment to consider all options. The spokesperson said they are months away from knowing if a special session is needed.

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