Del Marsh: ‘I would encourage the governor at the proper time to call a special session to deal with prison legislation’
During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Tuesday, Alabama State Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) offered his assessment of the legislature’s efforts to address Alabama’s prisons, which are the scrutiny of the Department of Justice.
A letter released to the public last month by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Alabama stated the Justice Department believed the conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men might violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Marsh said he urged his colleagues to proceed with caution in attempting to pass any legislation that would deal with the prison issues.
“Let me say this: Sen. [Cam] Ward and Rep. [Jim] Hill and other members have been working diligently on this issue,” Marsh said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “In fact, they got a package of bills they’ve got tentatively ready to go. However, I think we all better be very careful … I think the feds know we are very cautiously looking at this situation and have been. But I think we would be ill-advised to pass a package of bills that aren’t totally ready.”
The Calhoun County Republican suggested the possibility of a special session, which would be called by Gov. Kay Ivey, to address the problem.
“I would encourage the governor – and I’ve talked to the governor about this – I would encourage the governor at the proper time to call a special session to deal with prison legislation, prison reform that addresses all the different issues, from mental health, security, to pay for those who work in the system, sentencing reform – all these things need to be addressed very similar to the way the infrastructure bill was handled. You know months went into that – a lot of meetings, a lot of research. Same thing with the prison system: We need to take what we’ve done, add to it and put together a truly comprehensive package that deals with these issues for the state.”
As for when, Marsh suggested the possibility of a fall special session to give time to put together a plan.
“If that’s down the road, say in October or whatever, and the DOJ understands we’re working diligently to get this done right, I think we’ll be fine,” he added. “So, I’m very guarded just to pass a few bills to think we’re solving a problem, and not fully solving it.”