ACTION: Students against prison construction in Alabama

Through her plan to invest at least $2.6 billion into private prisons in Alabama over the next 30 years, Governor Ivey is on track to destroy lives, exacerbate racial disparities in our state, and burden our generation for decades to come. Alabama has some of the most overcrowded prisons in the nation, with the Department of Justice twice declaring our system a violation of people’s constitutional right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment. And in these prisons, Black people make up more than half of the people who are incarcerated, despite being 27% of our state’s population. Building new prisons won’t solve any problems. Alabama’s prison population has boomed over the decades, resulting in one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation all while paroles and releases are plummeting. The state’s plan is to pay billions of dollars for prisons we’ll never even own, to fill them at excess capacity, and leave us right back where we started. And when the contracts expire in 30 years, our generation will be faced with the mess — and the bill.

But Governor Ivey’s plan isn’t just ineffective, it’s an affront to rational and moral policymaking. Recent research proves that private prisons don’t save states money, and instead bring with them millions of dollars in hidden costs. In just 10 years, Alabama’s spending on prisons has doubled, now accounting for more than 20 percent of our budget. As the number of people incarcerated in Alabama and the cost to imprison them continues to rise, our state is on track to spend more and more money on prisons and less money on everything else. One of the private prison companies we’re contracting with, CoreCivic, has a decade-long track record of shocking staff violence against people in their facilities.

While states across the country are terminating their agreements with private prisons, reducing the number of incarcerated people, closing prisons, and adding services to reduce crime and help offenders get back on track, Governor Ivey is set to light nearly $3 billion on fire and bury her head in the sand while a looming moral and fiscal crisis grows. And when it all falls apart, it will be our generation faced with an even larger problem and even fewer resources to tackle it. That’s why we need to act now. Governor Ivey is set to sign the deals soon and so many of our leaders are silently standing by. We need to flood their inboxes with the simple demand: NO NEW PRISONS. This site lets you send those letters with just a few clicks.

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