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Let’s just be real, Alabama lawmakers just want the feds to take over our prisons

Alabama has been looking at a prison crisis for a very long time.

In 2019, the Department of Justice sued Alabama over its prisons, but there have been vague threats for years that Alabama was about to see its prisons managed from Washington, D.C.

This has not been taken seriously, maybe for good reason, but it’s always been a threat.

In fact, more lawmakers have gone to prison than jail cells have been built by lawmakers since this has started. Maybe more prisons mean lawmakers in those cells?

Most recently, Governor Kay Ivey had a strange prison plan that went nowhere.

There was talk of a legislative solution and maybe a special session, but it went nowhere.

The latest comments by State Representative Steve McMillan (R-Foley) about this issue are distressing for a couple of reasons.

McMillian told FM Talk 106.5 that a prison deal is unlikely stating, “It’s going to take some tough negotiations, and I think it’s going to be a mountain too high to climb during an election year.”

Keep in mind that McMillan is not running for reelection here. His reasoning is cynical, unfortunate and, probably, 100% accurate.

But it is also pathetic. The Alabama Legislature has known this was an issue forever and can’t put their political needs on pause to get something done?

This is bad enough on its own, but the ramifications could be catastrophic financially for the state.

Former U.S. Attorney Jay Town, who witnessed some of this in his previous role with the Justice Department, says that all of this is probably being watched in Washington, D.C. and these statements like that are not going to viewed favorably.

If this continues, the federal government will step in, force prisoners to be released and demand Alabama fix this problem.

However, this might be by design. Alabama lawmakers and officials as a whole may not want to deal with it.

If the feds calls the shots, lawmakers get to toss up their hands and say, “It wasn’t me. It was the big bad federal government that made us spend hundreds of millions on prisons and let people go.”

This won’t be true. Their inaction will be responsible, but when Alabamians are talking about increases in crime and incarceration costs, they will have a reliable boogeyman at the ready.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

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