MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama continues its prison construction bill saga with its latest bill being shot down in the legislative session earlier this month.
After last year’s $800 million mega-prison bill died when the Alabama House of Representatives failed to vote on an amended version of the Alabama Prison Transformative Initiative Act prior to its expiration time, the state House was at it again to see if a similar bill could pass this year. Instead, the House opposed the latest version that called for the state to build a new women’s prison and three new men’s prisons. It, too, would have required the state to borrow between $200 million and $845 million, depending on how many prisons were leased, according to Alabama Public Radio.
Even though the bill is technically dead, a special session regarding the prison construction bill may be held. Governor Kay Ivey said she would wait to see a federal judge’s ruling on the state prisons before making a decision to hold the session. The ruling concerns the class-action lawsuit that involves inmates with mental illness currently incarcerated in Alabama suing the Alabama Department of Corrections due to facilities that are so inadequate they violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“Calling a special session may very well be an option because we’ve got to meet the needs of the state and we’ve got to meet the needs of what the judge outlines,” Gov. Ivey told the Associated Press. “We’ll wait and see what the judge rules.”
Alabama’s prisons are currently at 170 percent capacity, according to the Montgomery Adviser. Alabama State Senator Cam Ward, who introduced the latest bill told Alabama Public Radio that he is disappointed in the decision and expects that state lawmakers will eventually be back in special session later this year to discuss prison overcrowding in the state.
As of press time the federal judge’s ruling is expected to be given soon.