Ivey’s Prison Construction Plan Meets Financial Roadblock

 1529258034 
1622718062

A hallway inside Kilby Correctional Facility, the state's intake center.

Mary Scott Hodgin, WBHM

Gov. Kay Ivey said she will look at other options to finance new prison construction after the state missed a key deadline this week. 

Earlier this year, Ivey signed two leases with the private prison company CoreCivic, which agreed to build two new men’s prisons that the Alabama Department of Corrections would lease and operate. The state was negotiating with another group, Alabama Prison Transformation Partners, to build a third prison. 

Developers were supposed to secure funding for the project by Tuesday, but several investors pulled out of the deal in recent months. 

In a statement Wednesday, Ivey said she will soon meet with legislative leaders to discuss “additional/alternative options to fund the construction and maintenance of new prison facilities.”

“It is unfortunate that the comprehensive efforts underway to resolve this issue have proven so challenging and time-consuming,” Ivey said. “However, my commitment to improving prison conditions is unwavering.”

The state faces mounting pressure to improve its overcrowded prison system, which is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for unconstitutional levels of violence and sexual assault.

Alabama lawmakers have turned down previous proposals to fund prison construction and many criticized the build-lease plan, which did not require legislative approval. They point to an estimated cost of $3 billion over 30 years.

Chairman of the House General Fund Budget Committee, Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said it would be “better for taxpayers” for the state to fund new prisons. He said lawmakers could approve a bond issue to finance the project. 

“I think the vast majority of the legislature realizes now that we’ve got to have new facilities,” Clouse said. 

In an interview Wednesday announcing her bid for reelection, Ivey said a bond issue is “very likely.” She said she will only consider calling a special session if there’s an “agreed-upon plan.” 

More Front Page Coverage

Environmental Groups Appeal Judge’s Cahaba River Ruling To The Supreme Court

Two local environmental groups are appealing a Jefferson County Circuit Court’s recent decision to throw out the lawsuit against the Birmingham Water Works Board.

Bang, Bang. You’re Closed: Birmingham Threatens To Close Clubs With Violent Episodes

A drive-by shooting at Club Euphoria in west Birmingham left 21-year-old Lykeria Taylor dead and another male injured. Earlier that night, gunfire broke out at the club, leaving three others with non-life-threatening injuries.

Five Ways Birmingham Is Celebrating Its 150th Birthday

Mayor Randall Woodfin and the CEO of Vulcan Park and Museum announced this week a series of events to celebrate Birmingham’s 150 anniversary.

Shipt Founder, Bill Smith, Brings His Latest Startup To Birmingham

Landing, an apartment rental company, will relocate it headquarters to Birmingham, creating more than 800 new jobs.

To Curb Gun Violence In Gulf States, Activists Are Taking A Closer Look At Policing Alternatives

Over Memorial Day weekend, at least 26 shootings were reported in major cities across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. At least 10 people were killed and 17 others were injured. It was the latest example of rising homicides and gun violence across the Gulf states this year.

People in Alabama Prisons Confused, Frustrated As State Officials Withhold Their Stimulus Checks

Thousands of people in Alabama prisons received COVID-19 stimulus payments from the federal government, but state officials are holding the checks. They say people in prison will get their money, but maybe not all of it.

More Front Page Coverage