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DOC planning to hire independent team to create "master plan" for prisons

Updated: Nov. 6, 2017 at 6:53 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's Department of Corrections announced plans to hire an independent project management team to create a plan for the state prisons, including potential prison construction and renovation.

"It is clear that we have serious infrastructure needs within our prison system and we need to make decisions on correcting these issues. Today we are taking a large step toward doing just that," Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said in a statement released last week. "This plan will provide a blue print for long-term fixes to this generational problem."

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center expressed concern with the planned hiring as it looks like a step towards a new prison construction plan.

Maria Morris, from the SPLC, said the state is mixing it's priorities if it focuses on building prisons first.

"Anyone who budgets for their family knows they have to buy food. They know they have to pay for water before they go and renovate the house and that's what we are looking at." Morris said.

The state is currently trying to find solutions to the prison system's mental health care, after a federal judge ruled it was "grossly inadequate."

Morris said the state should use it's resources on hiring more staff, not be focused on building new prisons.

Both the SPLC and the DOC have said in the past that the prison facilities are in poor condition, and that the system is understaffed.

Really the debate often seems to center around what takes priority.

Alabama has limited funds, and while the state is court ordered to fix its prison problems, some are concerned about doing it the right way.

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