SPLC Pres.: AL corrections needs reform, not new prisons

SPLC Pres.: AL corrections needs reform, not new prisons

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen called the governor's prison reform plan a "pipe dream" on Friday.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced it was investigating all men's prisons in Alabama. The investigation will look at the living conditions of inmates and see if they are properly cared for.

"I think the DOJ's intervention is a long time coming," Cohen said.

Alabama's prisons are among the most overcrowded and understaffed in the country. Governor Robert Bentley's plan to fix that is using an $800 million bond issue to pay for four new prisons.

These new facilities will allow for the closing of other older facilities and the bond would be paid for through construction and the operation costs saved through consolidation.

However, according to Cohen, he wants to see more reform from the system itself. Cohen said too many prisoners are locked up and for too long.

There is no easy fix to the prison system, and the debate over corrections will likely be a top priority in the next legislative session.

SPLC has multiple ongoing suits against the state's corrections department.

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