Despite a bipartisan acknowledgment that Alabama is facing serious consequences for inadequacies in its Department of Corrections, there is no bipartisan agreement on how to proceed to solve them.
Many on the left insist criminal justice reform and a shake-up at the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles is the place to start and that state officials could tackle the issue without new prison construction.
Some on the right argue new prisons would alleviate some of the overcrowding issues and get the state back in compliance with the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney Jay Town, one of the three U.S. Attorneys on the initial lawsuit filed by the Trump Department of Justice against the State of Alabama, disputed the notion that the Department of Justice did not say new prison construction was part of the remedy.
“I would disagree with anyone that says DOJ didn’t mention the construction of new prisons,” he said. “They have. In fact, there’s a quote from the April 2, 2019 letter of findings, which is when this all began. I signed this letter, and it says the prisons are old, have not undergone serious renovation, and thus have deteriorated significantly. And some of the immediate measures, one of them that is suggested by DOJ, is to identify three of the three worst prisons and either get to work on them or potentially discuss building new facilities.”
According to Town, there has to be an all-of-the-above approach.
“I mean, look, folks need to understand this: There is not one solution to the issues in the Alabama Department of Corrections,” Town continued. “I’ve been reading a lot on Twitter about the parole board, for instance, right? Then you read a lot about the cost of building new prisons, and who should have to pay for it, and should it be tax dollars or through a bonded scenario.”
“We cannot train, or policy, or parole, or build our way out of these constitutional issues in Alabama prisons,” he added. “We have to sort of do all of those things.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.