North Alabama lawmakers express concerns regarding Gov. Ivey’s prison plan

ATHENS, Ala. – Governor Kay Ivey is seeking bids to build three large regional prisons saying she has a major problem with prison conditions and overcrowding. She said the prison system is seeking proposals from contractors, then the administration will decide how to proceed.

That would involve borrowing money to build them or leasing them from private companies. The administration estimated construction would cost about $900 million.

Lawmakers at a legislative reception in Athens on Wednesday expressed concerns about Governor Ivey’s proposal. Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn says the administration believes savings from closing aging, outdated prisons and consolidating operations will pay for the new construction. Lawmakers worry about what would happen if construction spending goes over what is being projected.

“There isn’t going to be any overruns. How many times have you ever seen that? And then if you do have overruns and you end up 100 million over how are you going to pay for it,” Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens) said.

Lawmakers are also concerned about what the governor’s plan means for existing correctional facilities. She has not provided any details on those plans. Senator Tom Butler is particularly worried about the Limestone County facility. He says prisons contribute to the economy of the local communities they are in.

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