Alabama’s New Prisons Planned For Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties

 1526667535 
1599135113

Bibb County Correctional Facility

Mary Scott Hodgin

Alabama officials announced Thursday the location of three new regional prisons planned for Bibb, Elmore and Escambia counties.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey’s office said the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) will now enter into negotiations with two private developer teams who will build the facilities and lease them to the state. ADOC will still operate and staff the prisons, but the private developers will be responsible for long-term maintenance. Officials said they will announce financial details of the project in late 2020, after final negotiations.

The new prisons will replace several existing male facilities, which are chronically overcrowded, understaffed and violent. ADOC is currently under a court order to improve conditions and hire roughly 2000 correctional officers. It is also in negotiations with the US Department of Justice to address violence among both inmates and staff.

“It is no secret that the ADOC is facing real, longstanding challenges, most of which are decades in the making and rooted in inadequate, crowded, and structurally failing facilities,” ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said in a statement. “Building new facilities that improve safety and security for staff and inmates and allow for effective inmate rehabilitation is the right and only path forward.”

Some lawmakers have voiced concerns about a lack of transparency and a lack of involvement in the construction planning process. Many critics have also argued that new, larger prisons will not address the root issues facing the prison system. In a statement Thursday, the advocacy group Alabamians for Fair Justice said the state should focus more on sentencing reform and alternatives to prison.

“A prison plan focused only on building more cages will only serve to feed the prison industrial complex, resulting in the disproportionate incarceration and exploitation of even more Black and Brown people to pad the pockets of private prison corporations,” the group said.

In Thursday’s announcement, the governor said the new prisons will provide more space for programming and recreation, and the buildings will be designed with more cells, rather than open dormitories found in many existing facilities. She said the ADOC faces $1 billion in deferred maintenance costs to continue using its current male prisons.

According to the plan, CoreCivic, a national private prison company, will build two of the new facilities, in Elmore County and Escambia County. The prison in Bibb County will be developed by Alabama Prison Transformation Partners, a group that includes Birmingham-based construction company BL Harbert International. Previously, officials said the new prisons will house between 3000 and 4000 inmates.

Editor’s Note: BL Harbert International sponsors some programming on WBHM, but our news and business departments operate independently.

More Front Page Coverage

Legislative Wrap-Up: What Died And What Passed On The Final Day

Many bills made it out before Monday's deadline. But the lawmakers also expect a special session later this year.

Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Legislation

Lawmakers had a change of heart after decades of debate on the issue.

UAB Closes Three COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Sites While Alabama’s Vaccination Rate Remains Below 50%

UAB announced this week it's closing the majority of its public COVID-19 vaccination sites because of a decline in participation. Meanwhile, Alabama remains at the bottom nationally for the number of adults that have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

‘When Buses Were A-Comin’: Remembering The Freedom Riders 60 Years On

A group of young civil rights activists began their journey to the South to challenge segregation on interstate buses in May 1961. The riders were taunted and beaten by white mobs – and jailed. Participants of the movement share what their fight means now.

Using Pastors And Pints, Gulf States Try To Boost COVID Vaccination Rates In White Communities

Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have the lowest vaccination rates nationally, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Health officials are considering creative incentives to get the numbers up from church events to possible beer giveaways.

As Demand Drops, Health Officials Look For Ways To Encourage Vaccinations

Health officials say at first they were focused on vaccinating elderly and at-risk people in Alabama. Now the focus is shifting to people who are skeptical or apathetic about the vaccine.

More Front Page Coverage