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Alabama House approves prison construction bill

OK’d legislation moves on to Senate for consideration

The Alabama House of Representatives today approved a prison construction plan.

The approved bill, HB4, came after an hours-long debate on the bill, which is a proposed $1.3 billion.

The plan includes:

• the constrcution of two men’s megaprisons (4,000 beds each) in Elmore and Escambia counties. The Elmore facility will house needed medical, mental healthcare and rehab services for inamtes, according to reports;

• construction will be funded by a $785 million bond issue, $400 million in COVID relief money and $150 million from the General Fund.

The house approved both COVID and General Fund monies today.

According to reports, General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, who is the sponsor of the bill, called the bill a “ win-win-win” situation for the state as it saves  Alabama money, addresses the department of justice’s lawsuit and promotes a safer environment for staff and inmates, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Additionally, the bill includes a possible construction of a new women’s prison to replace the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statement shortly after the bill passed in the House.

“Addressing our decades-long prison infrastructure challenges is not easy, but sometimes, doing the right thing and the hard thing are one in the same,” Ivey said in a statement. “This is not a victory lap because there is more legislative work to be done this week; this is the halfway point for the prison construction bills. I am extremely proud of the members of the Alabama House of Representatives for their hard work and support. Chairman Steve Clouse has proven instrumental in crafting the bills, moving them through committee and carrying them on the floor. The work done today will help lead to solutions that will greatly benefit all Alabamians for decades to come. I offer my sincerest thanks to the members, and I continue to offer any resource needed in the next few days to get this across the finish line.”

The bill, which was approved mostly by proponent support, now moves on to the Senate.