Activists, non-profits believe $400 million from COVID relief funds shouldn’t go to prisons

Alabama News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Governor Kay Ivey’s funding plan for building new prisons continues from activists in Alabama. Some are concerned using $400 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan isn’t the right move.

“We think this is a gross misuse of funds,” President and CEO of the Birmingham Urban League William Barnes said.

Barnes says they’ve received $25 to $30 million from the American Rescue Plan to help people with utilities and rental payments.

“The last thing that any family needs to worry about right now is where they’re laying their head at night,” Barnes said.

Both Barnes and activist groups like Alabama Students Against Prisons believe the money should go toward other things like education, healthcare, etc.

“So when you wanna talk about where resources need to go, let’s talk about educating our kids and continuing to do so,” Barnes said.

“Around 17% of Alabama is without broad-band internet. I mean, let’s start there,” Co-Founder Morgan Duckett said.

Duckett says building more prisons isn’t solving the state’s issue, but potentially enhancing it.

“Speak to a single, currently incarcerated person in one of our facilities where they risk their life every day because of a lack of action,” Duckett said.

CBS 42 Political Analyst Steve Flowers says this has been an issue in the state for some time.

“I was in the legislature 25 years ago, or 30 years ago, and when George Wallace was Governor in his last term, we had the same scenario happen,” Flowers said.

Both Duckett and Barnes hope with the current session in place, history won’t repeat itself.

“If you talk to incarcerated people, a cage is a cage is a cage is a cage,” Duckett said.

“And I would simply say just because it’s lawful doesn’t mean that it’s something we don’t take advantage of,” Barnes said.

Flowers believes the session could go toward the end of the week, potentially to next Monday.

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