Lawmakers tour state prison to seek improvements

Local News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been five months since the Department of Justice threatened to sue the state of Alabama over prison conditions.

Since then, Gov. Kay Ivey created a study group on Criminal Justice Policy. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the goal of the tour is to show lawmakers the good, bad and ugly inside the Alabama prison system.

“We staff these facilities to the best our abilities,” Dunn said.

On Wednesday, Dunn took lawmakers on a tour of the Staton Correctional Facility in Montgomery.

“The good here is that we have staff that is working hard every day,” he said. 

The first stop of the tour was a big dorm-style cell, where about 300 male inmates are currently housed.

“The ugly truth is we lack the capacity to active our vision,” Dunn said. 

A major issue for inmates and staff is the air conditioning in most of the places toured does not cool enough.

Dining halls, medical facilitates and classrooms for education were also part of the tour. 

Meanwhile, the governor’s study group on criminal justice policy is trying to find a way to tackle overcrowding.

“We must consider methods of sentencing that take into account the change in times,” said Champ Lyons, chairman of the group. 

Not only is the study group looking at population, but infrastructure as well.

“While I believe we do need to build something we need to get these inmates out of these inhumane prisons, I’m there yet on building new prisons,” Sen. Bobby Singleton said.

Building new prisons is a plan supported by Ivey.

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