Lawmakers: Overcrowded prisons will cost AL taxpayers

Lawmakers: Overcrowded prisons will cost AL taxpayers
"If we treat a dog like we treat our prisoners every animal rights person in the world would be down here in droves," Birmingham Representative John Rogers said. Source: WBRC video
"If we treat a dog like we treat our prisoners every animal rights person in the world would be down here in droves," Birmingham Representative John Rogers said. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Voters have hit with a lot of issues this election season but one issue is not getting much play: prison overcrowding.

A pair of state lawmakers said Monday if the problem is not addressed, it could end up hitting taxpayers in the pocketbook.

Alabaster Senator Cam Ward and Birmingham Rep. John Rogers both sit on the state prison oversight committee. Ward said California had an overcrowding problem at more than 160 percent and a court had to tell them to cut it down to 130 percent. Ward said Alabama stands at 192 percent capacity.

Ward and Rogers said prison reforms are needed, such as taking non-violent drug offenders and put them into community corrections programs. Both men also called for building additional prisons.

"If we don't do something about it, a federal court will come in and take it over. What's going to hurt us is, it's going to kill our budget. It will bankrupt us if federal courts take over our prisons," Ward said.

"If we treat a dog like we treat our prisoners, every animal rights person in the world would be down here in droves," Rogers said.

Ward said it would not be a quick fix in the state legislature. Ward added it would take four to five years and the state needs to start as soon as possible.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.