Plans underway for implementation of over US$ 1bn Alabama prison project

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The plan for the implementation of an over US$ 1bn Alabama prison project is currently in the works. The prison project is intended to minimize the overcrowding and violence, which has plagued Alabama’s correctional facilities for years. Especially, the incidents of violence in December 2020, which resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice suing the state.

The Alabama prison project mainly involves the development of two 4,000-bed men’s prisons for Elmore and Escambia counties. In addition to the new prison facilities, provisions will also be made for medical facilities as part of the project. Following the federal lawsuit, the state is compelled to make improvements to the facilities and provide a safer correctional system.

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Funding for the Alabama prison project

The Alabama Corrections Finance Authority recently raised $509 million from bond sales, as part of the construction costs. But the funds fall short of about $200 million. The state intends to search for other funding options to make up the remaining funds. One source could involve the Legislature providing additional funding or conducting another bond issue during more favorable conditions.

According to Bill Poole, the State’s Finance Director, this deficit will not hinder the prison project. He pointed out that the bond sale funds were entirely separate from the $400 million pandemic relief money already secured. In addition to this, $135 million is also available in General Fund money to finance the project. Poole also mentioned that the state would have to pay between $45 million to $48 million per year. These annual payments will service the debt on the bonds. Construction on the Alabama prison project is still on track for the 2026 delivery date.

After trying to advance the prison project for several years, Governor Ivey was pleased with the steps taken for funding. He described the bond sale as a significant and positive step toward the construction process for the Alabama prison project. The governor said the state would build on this and continue making improvements to its criminal justice system.