MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to block construction of the governor’s $3 billion mega-prisons project.
“The lawsuit, rooted in baseless allegations and failed interpretations of State law, is nothing more than an attempt to impede the State’s forward progress in addressing critical infrastructure needs, improving its correctional system, and building a more rehabilitative, therapeutic environment for Alabama’s population of incarcerated people,” the ADOC said in a statement.
In February, Ivey signed two contracts with prison giant CoreCivic to build the mega-prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties. The deal involves 30-year lease contracts, which the ADOC will operate the prisons, but CoreCivic will maintain them.
The lawsuit asks a judge to issue a declaratory judgment on the issue, specifically as to whether the governor can incur debt for the state.
Both Ivey and ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler, Rep. John Rogers, Elmore County property owner Leslie Ognburn and pastor Kenny Glasgow are the plaintiffs in the suit. They believe the lease agreements signed by Ivey violate state law and ADOC regulations.
They are asking a judge to void the lease agreements with CoreCivic, and they’re also seeking temporary and permanent injunctive relief to suspend the lease agreements.
ADOC officials said Zeigler has no authority of legal standing to file the complaint as State Auditor.
“Given the importance of quickly eliminating this unproductive distraction, the State has also filed a Motion for an Expedited Briefing Schedule and Hearing on its Motion to Dismiss. We are confident that the Court will see fit to do so,” ADOC said.