Category: Alabama Prisons
Major banks have backed off of financing two of the three proposed new prisons in Alabama, leaving opponents of Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan to lease the prisons from private groups hopeful that any deals related to the third site, in Brierfield, also would hit a snag.
Bloomberg News reported Monday that the sudden about-face by Barclays and Keybanc took financial traders by surprise.
The prisons in Escambia and Elmore counties are slated to be built by CoreCivic, a prison company that has contracted with the state of Alabama to build the two prisons and lease them to the state for 30 years. The third site, proposed for Brierfield in Bibb County, is to be built and owned by a consortium headed by BL Harbert. Read more.
Recent information about prison company CoreCivic’s agreement with the state to build two large facilities is renewing concerns among some about the cost and state funding priorities.
On April 2, Bloomberg News reported on bank Barclay’s plans to be an underwriter for CoreCivic.
The story included a report from CoreCivic to potential investors that said ADOC’s revenues are provided by the Legislature. “This will include budgeting for all of ADOC’s obligations under the new lease agreements,” it said.
“ADOC has discretion over how to spend the appropriation provided by the Legislature and has covenanted in the lease to prioritize lease payments above all other obligations to the extent permitted by law.” Read more.
When Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed leases for two new privately-owned prisons earlier this year, the decision sparked uproar with the public, activists and the legislature. While state leaders say the move aims to improve prison conditions, some worry it will only increase the incarceration rate in a state that ranks 13th nationally.
Louisiana ranks number one in the country for incarceration rates, and Mississippi comes in second. With the U.S. Department of Justice investigating all three states for the prison conditions and their release practices, each state is testing a different approach to address those issues.
In Alabama, 30-year lease agreements with CoreCivic would allow one of the nation’s largest private prison companies to own and maintain the two facilities while the state corrections department staffs them. Together they’ll hold 7,000 inmates. Ivey pushed the deal through without opening it up to public opinion or working with state lawmakers.
This has residents like Alan Parker worried.
Criminal offenders who served their sentences in programs in which they stayed in their own communities under supervision were on average significantly less likely to commit new felonies than other offenders under the Alabama Department of Corrections oversight, a recent study found.
But some community correction programs had recidivism rates much higher than others and varied in the fees offenders had to pay. Meanwhile, the programs for non-violent felony offenders aren’t available in some areas of the state.
“The better the program and the better managed it is at the local level, the lower the recidivism rate,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur and chairman of the Alabama Commission on Evaluation of Services. Read more.
A new report urges Alabama leaders to change state laws that mean “death in prison sentences” for inmates convicted of crimes in which victims were not injured.
“Condemned,” from the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, details how Alabama’s Habitual Felony Offender Act is more punitive than most other Southern states’ laws and how keeping these men — many of them now senior citizens — in prisons is costing the state millions of dollars in medical care.
“We hope (lawmakers and other officials) realize that hundreds of people are still trapped in life without parole sentences for crimes where there was no physical injury and who if sentenced today would do a fraction of their current sentences,” Appleseed Executive Director Carla Crowder told Alabama Daily News. Read more.
More from the Legislature:
Legislative Session Starts With Caution, Big Bills
Read more on the legislative session, which began Tuesday.
Gov. Kay Ivey signed lease agreements for two men’s prisons on Monday, part of her plan for three new facilities the state will lease for 30 years at an estimated total cost of about $3 billion.
Construction for the two facilities is expected to begin later this year or the beginning of 2022.
The two lease agreements are with entities of prison builder CoreCivic. They will construct, own and maintain the facilities. It will be the Alabama Department of Corrections that staffs and administers the prisons.
Gov. Kay Ivey is set to sign lease agreements for two new men’s prisons as part of a long-negotiated plan to overhaul Alabama’s dilapidated corrections infrastructure. However, some state lawmakers are unhappy with the project after being told it will cost more each year than originally estimated.
On a call with state lawmakers Friday, Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Ivey would soon sign contracts with CoreCivic, one of the developers bidding for the massive prison project.
Asked to confirm the news, Ivey Press Secretary Gina Maiola said the contracts were scheduled to be signed on Monday.
Alabama plans a 3,100-inmate prison in the Brierfield community of Bibb County, but officialdom holds all the cards and the governor isn’t showing her hand.
Even Bibb County administrator Derek Reeves responds to questions about the proposed prison by saying: “I don’t know anything about that. We are not involved with the prison.”
Gov. Kay Ivy has disclosed three general locations for prisons that the state will lease from their private developers. Brierfield, the last general area revealed, has received the coolest reception from the residents of Brierfield Estates, who are leading the opposition.
Big questions loom involving how infrastructure would be provided in the rural area, such as treated water, sewage disposal and access roads.
The precise site of the new prison has not been officially announced. But signs point to it being built at the intersection of A. Arker Road and Brickyard Pass about a mile west of Alabama 139, in the Ashby area.
Such a large prison calls for about 500 acres, and the parcel at that location, which has been cleared to bare earth, fits the description released by the governor’s office. A road potentially suitable for heavy construction vehicles also has been cut into the site. Equipment and activity now at the site are of the type suitable for well drilling or environmental testing.
A source with knowledge of the prison development confirmed that the site is, indeed, the intended location for the prison and that contractors are drilling a well there. Read more.
A lawsuit filed last week by the U.S. Department of Justice could lead to federal supervision of Alabama’s prison system. It’s the culmination of an investigation that began in 2016 and resulted in two scathing reports, published April 2019 and July 2020, that detailed rampant abuse of inmates.
Before filing the lawsuit, the DOJ spent more than a year negotiating with state officials and trying to get Alabama to improve its prison system.
University of Alabama law professor Jenny Carroll said the federal government got tired of waiting. “I think the fact they did go ahead and file suggests that the solutions the state came up with and were bringing to the table and were offering just weren’t enough,” said Carroll. “They weren’t enough in light of what DOJ was finding.” Read more.
Down a two-lane road in Bibb County, about 10 miles from Montevallo, the unincorporated community of Brierfield has one restaurant, a post office, and a small convenience store that takes cash only. About 1500 people live in the area.
The state wants to build a 3,000-person prison here, one that will be larger than any existing facility. Brierfield is one of three locations slated for new mega prisons as part of a plan to address chronic crowding and violence in the state prison system.
Brierfield residents are pushing back. Read more.