Prison construction, sentencing bill before lawmakers | Alabama News


MONTGOMERY, Ala, (AP) – Alabama lawmakers began a special session on Monday on prison construction and related reforms. Here’s a look at what’s hot:

The centerpiece of the session is a $ 1.3 billion prison construction plan. The proposal calls for at least three new prisons – a prison of at least 4,000 beds in Elmore County with increased space for medical and mental health needs; another prison with at least 4,000 beds in Escambia County; and a women’s prison, as well as renovations to existing facilities. Five existing prisons would eventually close.

MONEY FOR CONSTRUCTION would include some antiviral funds

Alabama lawmakers propose to borrow $ 785 million through a bond issue, then allocate $ 400 million from the state’s share to U.S. rescue funds along with $ 150 million. general funds dollars to the project. The proposal has drawn criticism from some who say pandemic relief dollars should not be used to build prisons. But legislative leaders said it was an authorized and appropriate use of funds to make up for lost revenue so states can provide vital services.

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The governor’s special session appeal includes sentencing reform, a proposal to approve retroactive guidelines on presumptive sentences approved in 2013. This would allow non-violent inmates sentenced before 2013 to seek a new sentence. Bennet Wright, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission, estimated 700 inmates could be eligible for new sentences. Some lawmakers have argued that the state should enact more comprehensive sentence changes.


The plan also includes credit to buy a vacant private jail in Perry County. The Pardons and Parole Office would use the facility for addiction and mental health rehabilitation programs for those at high risk of reoffending, Director Cam Ward said.

Alabama legislative leaders anticipate a quick session. The bills will be in House committees on Tuesday. If approved, the bills would go to the House for a vote on Wednesday. Lawmakers said they hoped to pass all four bills and conclude the special session on Friday. However, this hope depends on the approval of the committee and the progress of the debate.

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