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Lawmakers push back on Alabama megaprison plan

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File image(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:21 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Several state lawmakers have questioned Gov. Kay Ivey’s Alabama Prison Program to build three new prisons in Alabama.

The governor signed lease agreements earlier this month, but several lawmakers say they were left out of the loop.

Several state lawmakers are not fully on board with the governor’s multibillion-dollar plan to have three new regional megaprisons built.

“It’s almost buying a pig in a sack and you don’t necessarily know what’s in the sack,” said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Ivey signed lease agreements with a company to build two of the prisons, but lawmakers say they have not seen the details of those agreements.

“And I think there have been questions about the amount of resource that’s been spent on that project,” said Senate President Greg Reed.

The governor’s office says large projects like these need to stay confidential.

“We still have some questions. And there’s still some concerns about what the governor’s proposal is,” said House Speaker Mac McCutcheon.

But some House lawmakers are working on a separate “backup plan.’

“Instead of a lease program, this would be a state bond issue to where the state would actually own the facilities and not lease them,” McCutcheon said.

“I’d rather much rather do a bond issue,” said Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road.

McCutcheon did not provides specifics on when lawmakers could move forward with the plan.

“We have a lawsuit over hanging over our heads from the department justice, so we want to make sure that we’re not doing anything to, to hurt that,” he said.

The governor’s office says the governor is in continuous discussions with lawmakers on this issue.

In the past, lawmakers have shot down a bond proposal because of disputes over the cost and where the new prisons should go.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sued Alabama for the conditions inside the men’s prisons.

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