Gov. Ivey and lawmakers await guidance on using federal stimulus money to help solve Alabama’s prison woes


MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) – It’s been over a month since Gov. Ivey’s private prison plan fell through. The task to solve the state’s prison problems is now back with lawmakers.

Gov. Ivey and lawmakers said they are working hard to develop a plan to fix Alabama’s prison system, but added the desire to do it quickly can’t outweigh doing it correctly.

“We’re in constant dialogue with leadership in the House and Senate,” Ivey said. “We’re working together to get this done because prisons have got to be fixed and we got to have criminal justice reforms as well.”

The biggest issue facing Ivey and lawmakers is still how to pay for it all.  Republican State Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, said he and colleagues are still waiting for a final word on if federal stimulus money can be used to help offset costs.

“Need to work towards cobbling together different pools of that money to solve different areas.  For instance, we know we can use it on sewer, water and broadband.  So, we may can negate some of our construction costs with that money,“ Scofield said.

But whatever the solution, Scofield says it must be a comprehensive plan that not only solves overcrowding, mental health reform and more, but also have enough votes to pass.

“There’s a lot of politics involved in it obviously.  Where the new prisons are going to be built.  Which prisons we’re going to rehab, and which prisons are going to be re-purposed,” Scofield said.

Senator Scofield said lawmakers are hoping to have more answers next week from the Treasury Department on exactly how they can use federal stimulus funding for prison reform.

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