State Says Prison Construction Allowed With Relief Money | Alabama News

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – Alabama officials say federal rules do not appear to block the state’s plan to use $ 400 million in pandemic relief funds to build prisons, although the US Treasury Department document states that new prisons are generally not a qualifying use of the money.

The US Treasury Department on Thursday released the final rule for the state and local government budget recovery fund program promulgated as part of the US bailout. The Treasury Department wrote that construction of new penal institutions is “generally ineligible” if they are built in response to an increase in the crime rate.

Alabama is directing $ 400 million of the more than $ 2 billion it will receive from the US bailout to build new prisons. State officials said on Friday that the new rules do not ban the spending, while opponents of the plan say the rules argue it is an inappropriate use of the money.

JaTaune Bosby, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said in a statement that building a prison is inappropriate, “especially as healthcare workers, teachers, small business owners and so many other people in Alabama are struggling during this ongoing pandemic. “

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“But it is not too late for Governor Ivey and the Legislative Assembly to do the right thing and stop this irrational plan, which is not effective in solving the real crisis facing the prisons of France. ‘Alabama and those in prison. They have all the power to change course, to reallocate those funds to what the Alabamians really need and to avoid the federal government getting involved – again, ”Bosby said in a statement.

The Alabama Department of Finance said in a statement that the prison construction plan “is not affected by the final rule of the US Treasury Department.”

Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency’s tax division, wrote in an email that the $ 400 million came from a segment of US bailout funds meant to make up “lost revenue” during the pandemic that states can use to disembark to government departments. He said states have more flexibility over this money.

“I don’t see the final rule impacting our use of the $ 400 million for prisons at all. Funds for prisons came from the ‘lost revenue’ portion of the funds, ”Fulford wrote in an email.

He noted that the rules state that the funding can be used to pay for government services in an amount equal to the loss of income suffered by the recipient due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

He said the Alabama government lost about $ 536.7 million in revenue during the pandemic. He said the $ 400 million for prisons was taken from that money, which was placed in a separate fund.

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