Budget pressures leave Alabama prisons “vulnerable and fragile”

Alabama won’t spend more money to reform the Tutwiler Prison for Women, which was singled out in a report earlier this year as a troubled facility. (Photo: Alabama Department of Corrections)

Alabama’s state prison commissioner says the corrections system he operates is “vulnerable and fragile” despite a plan by lawmakers in that state to boost funding by an additional $14 million this year.

That’s according to a report by Mike Cason at Alababama.com.  Cason points out that Alabama’s governor had been pushing for funding increase of more than $20 million to a corrections budget that already topped $370 million.

Alabama’s legislature appears on track to pare that back substantially and that will mean lay-offs and other austerity measures.

That won’t leave enough to hire 100 additional correctional officers, put cameras in Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and make other improvements that he said are vital.

“We’re just going to have to scrap them,” Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas told Cason. “This is all at a time when we’ve been underfunded for years.”

According to a study released last month by the Pew Center’s Public Safety Project, Alabama is one of the states in the US that continues to expand its prison system, adding roughly 9% to the inmate population over the last 5 years.

 

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