Earlier this month, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections alleging violations of the Eighth and 14th Amendments, adding that “constitutional compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means,” and therefore legal action would be required.
It is still more than two months until the Alabama Legislature will convene for its 2021 regular session, which will give the body its first opportunity to formally address the suit.
In an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) expressed a degree of frustration with the Justice Department’s decision. He cited efforts already underway but acknowledge Alabama’s prison situation was not where it needed to be.
“I hate that that happened because we have been addressing it,” he said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “I know that COVID had slowed down some of the process on the bills that we had. You know, the Governor is certainly trying to address it. We’ve put over $40 million to try and hire folks, to put in prison guards to put in prisons. We have been addressing it. Has it gotten to where it needs to be? Absolutely not. Were we going to get it to that way overnight? No, we weren’t. It didn’t get in this shape overnight. It’s a little bit — I don’t know, it’s a little bit aggravating — I’m going to be honest with you because we’ve been working on it. And the Governor’s been working on it. And if they just follow what we’ve been doing legislatively, what we’ve been putting in the budget to take care of some of this problem, they would know that. And I know there are some issues that have come up lately. I get that, and I’m sure that’s where some of that comes from. But like I said — it didn’t get this way overnight, and we’re not going to fix it overnight. But we are trying to make it better.”
Ledbetter said he anticipated more legislation to be considered that will deal with the issue this year.
“[W]e’ve got legislation that’s going to be coming up in this session,” Ledbetter added. “Some of it would have been passed last session if it hadn’t been cut short due to COVID. I know Representative Jim Hill has been working on it. As you know, Jim is a judge and retired from there, and is chairman of Judiciary. And they’ve been working on legislation, and I think it is going to be beneficial. As you know, I’ve worked on the mental health portion and trying to help with some of the issues, too, and as far as that goes across the state. And I think we’ve got a lot of things going in the right direction. And hopefully, they can see that. Once everything has been put on the table, we can move forward and take care of the issue.”
@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.