Funding finalized for state’s new prison construction

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Funding for the state’s prison construction project is officially secured after the closing of bond sales Tuesday morning.

This gives the state three pots of money to use for the new facilities. In addition to the money from that bond sale, part of the state’s general fund and money from the American Rescue Plan will be used for this construction.

  • $509 million will come from a bond sale
  • $400 million from COVID-19 relief funds
  • $135 million from the state’s general fund

“Now it’s just the legalese that goes along with all of these procedures,” said Rep. Steve Clouse. “So it’s finalized. We’re moving forward.”

But 66 inmates are calling on the federal government to try and stop the state from moving forward. They’ve filed a lawsuit against the U.S Department of Treasury asking them to stop the state from using COVID-19 funds.

The plaintiff’s lawyers released a statement saying, “If Alabama moves forward with this construction project, then thousands of individuals will be denied relief from overcrowding, understaffing, and corruption within the department. Alabama will continue to be in defiance of a court order to improve its mental and medical care to those most in need. If Alabama really cared about providing relief to its citizens, then they would have listened to it to the federal government about how to properly spend the money instead of finding pet projects for their top donors.”

Clouse says using this money is legal.

“Those loss revenue funds were put into a separate compartment all by itself, and they basically can be used for anything dealing with state agencies,” he said.

And in a statement, the state said, “Governor Ivey and Legislative Leadership have worked on a bipartisan basis to solve the decades-old challenges facing Alabama’s correctional system, recognizing that the construction of new and modern correctional facilities is absolutely and undeniably necessary to support the safety of both inmates and staff, to improve mental health care, to provide space for vocational and rehabilitative programs, and ultimately to protect public safety.

“To be abundantly clear: The state continues to move towards closing its bond issue to finance these facilities. No eleventh-hour lawsuits by inmates or activists will halt these efforts, and the state intends to move to dismiss the lawsuits and vigorously defend against the claims as being without merit. The state is absolutely resolute in its goals of building safe and secure facilities and will always stand behind its obligations to bondholders.”

The current price tag for the project is over $1 billion, but Clouse says that’s only enough for the next three years of construction.

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