BRIERFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) – The State of Alabama is moving forward with its plan to build new mega prisons; however, after months of protests from activists groups and the people of Bibb County, the new plan does not include Brierfield.
“The residents of Brierfield are very relieved,” activist Jackson McNeely said.
Jackson McNeely has been one of the main leaders in the protest from the beginning. She says the proposed prison could use up to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water daily, which would drastically impact their own water supply.
“It would be a total collapse of our environment and our water supply,” McNeely said.
The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has also been very vocal against the prison plan. Sheriff Jody Wade says he does support building new prisons if they are needed, but the county can’t support it. He says having a prison that houses thousands of inmates can strain manpower with officers, firefighters, even paramedics.
“Would be the delay in response times and strain on resources that we have now,” Wade said.
Protests over the prison have been happening for over a year. What started as a community protest gained momentum as groups like the ACLU and Alabama Students Against Prisons joined the fight.
“Here are these college kids say that this is wrong and let’s stand up for this. And they got in there and they fought hard,” McNeely said.
“Their voices being heard and heard all the way from Brierfield to Montgomery and I believe they listened,” Wade said.
Sheriff Wade says the protests over the prison plan show groups with different views and ideas can come together toward a common goal.
“I believe that the other people I was working with in trying to block this, they had the things they were concerned about, but I think as a whole, when we come together, we realize that this is not the right plan for Alabama,” Wade said.
“You’ve got to be involved in your community and what’s going around you,” McNeely said.
McNeely says they have learned a lot about the prison system as a whole from their protests. She says if there’s another proposed mega prison in the county, they’ll be ready to protest that plan as well.