Alabama Senate Passes Legislation To Build Prisons With COVID Funds

build two new mega-prisons for $1.3 billion, with about $400 million of the money coming from COVID relief funds
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Montgomery, Ala.-- Friday the Alabama Senate passed legislation that would build two new mega-prisons for $1.3 billion, with about $400 million of the money coming from COVID relief funds allocated to the state via the federal American Rescue Plan.

At the same time criminal justice reform legislation passed that allows some who are incarcerated to be released under mandatory supervision prior to the end of their sentence. 

The SPLC Action Fund opposed the prison construction. It is wrong to spend $400 million in COVID relief on prisons when so many people in Alabama are still suffering from the pandemic. Building new prisons will also not solve the long running incarceration crisis in Alabama that has led to the U.S. Department of Justice suing the state for the inhumane conditions that now exist inside Alabama prisons.   

The action fund did support the criminal justice reform as a first step but acknowledges it doesn’t come close to solving the crisis that now exists inside the prison system. A resentencing bill that would have allowed approximately 700 incarcerated people to have their sentences reviewed by a judge was considered but never voted on by the House or Senate, a missed opportunity to take a humanitarian step that would be far more responsive to the allegations of the Department of Justice finding. 

The following is a statement from Katie Glenn, policy associate at the SPLC Action Fund.   

“The Alabama Legislature has proved its determination to spend $400 million of American Rescue Plan funds to build two mega-prisons when we have one of the highest COVID death rates in the world. It won’t solve the problems plaguing the prison system, only decarceration can do that. Lawmakers did pass minor reforms that would give a small percentage of incarcerated people a new lease on life, but it’s not enough. This prison construction plan takes money away from communities that desperately need it while keeping more people incarcerated who deserve the right to a second chance. This plan hurts all Alabamians, and we urge lawmakers to rethink this plan and invest in people over prisons.”  

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