COVID-19 relief funding for jail building have been approved by Alabama Governor Ivey.
A bill passed by Alabama’s Republican governor will use federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds to build new jails.
According to AL.com, the $1.3 billion plan to build two additional men’s jails is meant to solve overcrowding issues in present institutions, which have garnered the attention of the US Department of Justice.
The bill, which was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, directs $400 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, a coronavirus relief package that Congress passed earlier this year. The remaining funding will come from a $785 million bond and $154 million in state money.
At a news conference on Friday, Ivey referred to the idea as a “Alabama answer” to the problems plaguing the state’s jail system, which has been subjected to 15 federal regulations over conditions while draining state budgets. She described the jails’ development as a significant step toward modernizing the state’s criminal justice system.
“It is the legal and fiscally sound thing for us to address these difficulties by building new prison facilities,” she said. “It’s also morally right to ensure that our prison personnel has safe working conditions and that inmates have sufficient rehabilitative capabilities.”
Elmore County will be home to one of the 4,000-bed men’s prisons, which will focus on addiction treatment, mental health care, and education. The second will be constructed in Escambia County, Florida.
Democrats had reacted angrily to the action. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., said in a statement earlier this week that the state’s plan to spend the money on prisons when COVID-19 was still spreading rapidly throughout the public was “very disturbing.”
“Alabama presently has the country’s highest COVID-19 death rate,” he stated. “To be clear, the current state of Alabama’s jail system is awful, but using COVID-19 relief monies to pay for decades of neglect in our state is simply unacceptable.”
According to The Hill, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who chairs the House justice committee, wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, requesting that states not utilize relief funds on prisons.
He claims that utilizing the funds to “fuel mass imprisonment” is counterproductive to the relief package’s goals, affecting communities of color who are already disproportionately affected by over-incarceration and the repercussions of the… Article Summary from Nokia News