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Ivey announces special session agenda regarding prison infrastructure funding, criminal justice reform

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Thursday officially issued a proclamation calling for a special session of the Alabama State Legislature to address the state’s embattled prison system, which will convene on Sept. 27.

In the newly-announced proclamation, the governor outlined her legislative agenda which consists of multiple facets to solve the state’s prison woes.

Relating to the core issue of prison infrastructure is bond financing to be applied toward a “prison modernization plan” as well as supplemental appropriations providing additional funding for prison construction and other capital improvements. Concerning criminal justice reform, Ivey has charged the legislature with taking on the issue of resentencing for nonviolent offenders and mandating the supervision of inmates who are set to re-enter society.

Bond Financing

Ivey has capped the bond limit to modernize the state’s prisons at $785 million. The governor’s proclamation states that the plan will be carried out in a “phased approach.” This includes the construction of a “new specialized” men’s facility in Elmore County and a new male prison in Escambia County. Under the governor’s guidelines, Elmore County would also become home to a new women’s prison.

The proclamation further states that renovations are to be made to existing state-owned prisons in Jefferson County, Limestone County, and an additional location being located in Barbour or Bullock Counties, which will be at the discretion of the Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority. The governor also provides an avenue for the legislature to institute certain reforms and requirements of the authority such as updating provisions of its procurement, contracting, reporting, bond issuance, among other items.

Supplemental Appropriations

The governor in her proclamation has cleared the way for the legislature to make appropriations from the State General Fund, while setting the cap for such appropriations at $154 million. She has also authorized legislation to appropriate no more than $400 million from funds received under the federally enacted “American Rescue Plan,” which was passed by Congress to provide stimulus to offset the burdens levied upon the nation by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criminal Justice Reform

Ivey will also permit legislation allowing currently incarcerated inmates who committed nonviolent offenses prior to the “adoption of Alabama’s presumptive and voluntary sentencing standards in 2013 to be resentenced under the sentencing standards in effect at the time of motion seeking such relief is filed,” providing certain stipulations.

Additionally, the governor will allow the legislature to consider a bill to prescribe “periods of supervision by the Board of Pardons and Paroles of certain inmates nearing their release date” providing certain conditions in accordance with board procedures.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL