BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In a letter sent to lawmakers Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey said she will call a special session “to tackle our state’s prison infrastructure challenges.”
The letter said that next week the governor “will give the formal proclamation” about the session, which will convene on Monday, Sept. 27.
A draft of a prison construction bill has already circulated among lawmakers, and it proposes the construction of two new men’s prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties, as well as a new women’s prison in Elmore County.
“By building these modern facilities we will do so much to address the issues the Department of Justice mentioned in 2019,” Rep. Russel Bedsole said.
Alabama’s prison system has been the subject of lawsuits alleging unconstitutional overcrowding and conditions, and Ivey mentioned in the letter that the special session is necessary to address issues that “could result in detrimental consequences for our state.”
Several Democrats are concerned about the special session and worry this process could be rushed.
“What we need to do now is look at the lawsuits that were filed by the federal government to make sure that we meet all of those concerns also,” Rep. John Rogers said.
“Because every time we as the democratic caucus go to the Governor, sit down, negotiate, barter back and forth, try to come up with some quid pro quo that we can all work together on, it’s for not,” Rep. Juandalynn Givan said.
In a statement, Sen. Greg Reed also said that without action by the state to address prison issues, federal authorities may act.
“The stakes are high – without taking action on this issue, the federal government could take control of our prison system at a high cost to Alabama taxpayers,” he said, “and could even result in the forced release of prisoners. It’s time to finally resolve this issue for the people of Alabama.”