Billion dollar prisons won't fix Alabama's problems.
What is happening: Governor Kay Ivey has called for a Special Legislative Session on prisons, beginning on Monday, September 27, 2021. Two things will be under consideration: 1) a $1.2 billion plan to build two new 4,000 bed prisons, and 2) a bill that would allow resentencing opportunities for a very limited number of people who were convicted years ago.
Why it matters: The billion dollar prison construction bill contains no funding for necessary medical and mental health care, no funding for rehabilitative services and programs that would make prisons safer and address federal concerns, no funding for reentry support to reduce recidivism, and no plan for how Alabama will staff two new 4,000 bed prisons when ADOC is only able to staff existing prisons at 40% of what is necessary. It is an expensive, incomplete plan that does not at all engage with the unconstitutional violations that led the US Department of Justice to file a federal lawsuit against the State of Alabama's prison system in December 2020. The limited options being considered by the legislature in this special session will not resolve Alabama's problems, and they will divert more than a billion dollars in state funds away from other needed services. The decisions made by Alabama lawmakers in the next few weeks will have far-reaching consequences for decades to come.
How you can help: Please use this letter writing tool to contact your state legislators in Montgomery. They need to know two things: 1) that this billion dollar prison construction plan is a poorly conceived misuse of Alabama's tax dollars, and 2) that serious reforms are needed to address Alabama's prison crisis well beyond what is on offer in this special session. Lawmakers need to know that Alabamians are paying attention, and that we are NOT willing to pay the bill for billion dollar prisons when lawmakers have left countless other options untouched. Enter your information on screen here, and then click "Start Writing."