In response to a federal judge’s order to fix Alabama’s prison system, the state has responded with a proposal to basically double the number of mental health workers in state prisons.
The response, filed by attorneys for the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), reads:
In this Plan, the State proposes a concise, measured process to address correctional and mental health staffing within ADOC facilities. This Plan is based upon two (2) fundamental objectives: (1) To define the requisite level of correctional and mental health staffing; and (2) To establish a plan for ADOC to achieve comprehensive staffing in its security and mental health operations.
However, the response says that Commissioner Dunn nor the ADOC can implement its plan without the legislature allocating the funds to do so. As its response to Judge Myron Thompson reads:
Neither Commissioner Dunn nor ADOC can undertake actions or carry out measures designed to address ADOC’s staffing needs without the requisite funding. In the event ADOC receives such funding, the on-going and proposed actions set forth in this comprehensive, multifaceted Plan should allow ADOC to obtain comprehensive correctional staff within two (2) years of the Effective Date.
Now that the plan has been submitted, Judge Thompson will have to sign off on it. If he does so, it then falls to us [the legisature] to find a way to pay for it, which we must do to comply with his order. Of course we have seen this coming, so it is no surprise, but it makes it no less challenging to fund. In ballpark figures, it will take $40 million a year to implement this plan. The current ADOC budget is $400 million a year so that’s a ten percent increase every year. Compared to most state agencies, that’s a very large increase. If Judge Thompson does approve the proposed plan, in this next session we will have to create a supplemental appropriations bill to allocate this extra $40 million and then find a way to make that part of the budget each year thereafter.