MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said he hopes to see a new master plan to address the prison system's infrastructure, which he said "is crumbling, it's failing."
The ADOC has pushed prison construction bills the last few years only to see them fail to receive approval from state lawmakers.
The plans would have put out around an $800 million bond to build four new prisons. The plan failed to pass, however, Dunn said the need to fix the prison system is still there.
"Many of our facilities are on the brink of failure," Dunn admitted. "We are closing Draper because we deem it was no longer in a condition where we could house inmates there."
Draper will be repurposed starting in March. The oldest state facility was built in the 1930s and needed at least $30 million in repairs.
Eleven of the 14 major state prison facilities in Alabama are at least 30 years old.
Dunn put out a request recently to have outside teams come up with a master plan.
"We need expertise that currently does not reside in the department to help us come up with a master plan," Dunn stated.
He said the plan will include looking at building new prisons, the cost of renovating old facilities and looking for a fix to health care within the prison system.
The commissioner would not rule out a potential partnership with private prisons, which could be a way to avoid needing lawmaker approval. Dunn said the master plan will help the governor have options to choose from.
"The governor has been very clear, she wants options," Dunn explained. He said other problems like overcrowding and understaffing are contributing to the poor conditions within the system.
The DOC is currently under litigation for the system's mental health care.
Dunn said a pay raise for correctional officers will be his number one priority in the next legislative session.