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April 13, 2023
California Governor Gavin Newsom has hit out at Alabama for using funds ringfenced for COVID to build more prisons.
“Lotta talk about education and choice from these GOP governors,” he said in a tweet. “Let’s look at the choices they’re making. When states received new federal money, CA gave 3.5 million kids college savings accounts. Alabama spent it on two super-sized prisons. Actions speak louder than words.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey hit back at Newsom’s tweet, saying: “And yet, Governor, folks are making their choice, leaving California in droves and calling ‘red states’ like Alabama home. Down here, we’re focused on public safety. And if we’re talking covid relief, we invested billions in our students. Common sense — that’s the Alabama way.”
The state of Alabama is using $400 million from the American Rescue Plan to build two “supersize” prisons. They will also use $725 million from bond sales and $135 million in state funds for the project. The prisons will be built in the Elmore and Escambia counties, the purpose being to deal with overcrowding within prisons.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2019 showed that Alabama had most overcrowded prisons in the country.
Governor Kay Ivey announced the states plans to build the new prisons in 2019 and acknowledged that “Alabama truly does have a major problem with our overcrowding of our prisons and it’s a challenge that we Alabamians must solve, not the federal courts.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center hit out at the state’s plans by saying that building more prisons simply papers over the cracks. “These funds were meant to support struggling hospitals, provide a lifeline to small businesses, create access to education for rural communities and much more,” said Southern Poverty Law Center Policy Associate Katie Glenn in a press release.
“They were not intended to finance Alabama’s latest prison construction boondoggle…The United States Department of Justice in its own investigation of the Alabama Department of Corrections made clear that building new facilities won’t solve our issues; only decarceration can do that.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ALABAMA NEWS CENTER