Prison Oversight Committee to Ask Hard Questions

Decatur Daily-


While lawmakers are in Montgomery, the Joint Legislative Prison Committee is going to meet. Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, chairs the committee and said its agenda includes asking the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner to come up with a detailed explanation of prisons’ capacity.

“I think we all agree that we’re over capacity, but give us some solid numbers on how much over capacity,” Ward said Friday. He said there is a difference between construction capacity — how many prisoners a facility was originally built to house — and structural capacity, which is how many they may hold after renovations and additions.

The committee wants to know how many more beds are needed, Ward said.

Bentley in February first pitched to lawmakers his plan to shutter most of the state’s 16 crowded and dated prisons by borrowing $800 million to build three mega-prisons housing up to 4,000 male inmates each and one women’s prison. The legislation died on the last day of the spring session.

Bentley has said he’ll bring it back next year. The ADOC, meanwhile, has a nearly half-million-dollar contract with an engineering firm to study the prisons.

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