Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday created a new commission that will examine how to best utilize the state’s prison facilities, several of which will be emptied in upcoming years as the state constructs three new prisons.
The current plan to build three new men’s prisons was covered by Yellowhammer News in an in-depth report earlier in September.
Officially titled the Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission, the governor’s new group will be chaired by Neal Wade, an economic development official who has worked for the State of Alabama in the past.
“As our Alabama Prison Program moves forward in building three new prisons… we will simultaneously need to smartly and safely repurpose or decommission these outdated, aging prisons,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday.
The governor further explained that the new commission “will provide recommendations based on in-depth facility analysis considering both the impact on the state and local community as well the financial ramifications to potentially repurpose or decommission some of our current prison infrastructures.”
A release from the governor’s office says that some facilities may find another use within the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), while others may be best suited for a different public entity or the private sector.
Citizens will not see a report from the commission anytime soon. The governor has mandated a report be sent to state leaders by September 1, 2023, or 90 days after the Commissioner certifies to the Commission that construction on the final prison is complete.
The report is to include “recommendations for the future of each existing male prison facility.”
Members of the commission, per the governor’s office, are as follows:
Neal Wade (Chair) is the former director of the Alabama Development Office, the precursor to the Alabama Department of Commerce, and currently serves as the managing partner of Advanced Economic Development Leadership for the National Economic Development Education Program.
Sen. Greg Albritton is chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee and was elected to represent District 22 in the Alabama Senate, which includes Baldwin, Clarke, Escambia, Monroe and Washington Counties.
Ben Baxley currently serves as chief of the Opinions Division in the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. He previously served as the deputy chief of the Criminal Division in the office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.
Ted Clem is the director of Business Development for the Alabama Department of Commerce. Clem joined Commerce in February 2014 as a senior project manager and played a key role in two projects in Opelika that involved $340 million in capital investment and nearly 400 new jobs.
Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison was elected to represent District 20 of the Alabama Senate, which includes Jefferson County. She previously served one term in the Alabama House of Representatives and three terms on the Birmingham City Council. She serves as the ranking minority member of both the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund and Governmental Affairs Committees.
Harold Crouch is currently the mayor of Chatom where he has served for 24 years. He was previously on the city council for two terms. He has also taught government, history and economics.
Darius Foster is the CEO and co-founder of H2T Digital. He received a BS in Business Administration from Miles College and a GC in Business Strategies for Social Impact from The Wharton School. He is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Business Council of Alabama as well as a former commissioner of the Alabama Commission of Higher Education.
Annette Funderburk is the President of Ingram State Technical College which serves a 100 percent incarcerated adult population that delivers career technical, GED and job skills training at six locations across Alabama. She previously served nearly 10 years within the Alabama Community College System where her most recent role was director of External Affairs.
Rep. Kelvin Lawrence was elected to represent District 69 of the Alabama House of Representatives which includes Autauga, Lowndes, Montgomery and Wilcox Counties. He serves on the Ways and Means General Fund and State Government Committees in the House of Representatives.
Merceria Ludgood currently serves as a Mobile County commissioner, District One, attorney and civic leader. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama, followed by a Master of Arts degree. She earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law An avid supporter of higher education, Ludgood is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including being selected for Leadership Mobile, Leadership Alabama and the prestigious Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship.
Walter Givhan, Maj. Gen., USAF (Retired) currently serves as senior vice chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development at Troy University. He is also the commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and vice commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. General Givhan, a native of Safford, Ala., graduated from Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala., and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was a National Merit Scholar.
Allen G. Peck, Lt Gen., USAF (Retired) is an assistant professor in the Department of Airpower and General George Kenney Chair at the United States Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). He also serves as co-facilitator for the joint Air War College/ Air Command and Staff College Airpower Vistas Research Task Force joint elective. Peck served for 36 years on active duty in the USAF, flying the air-to-air and air-to-surface variants of the F-15.
Rep. Connie Rowe is the vice chair of the Majority Caucus in the House of Representatives. She also serves as vice chair of both the Rules Committee and Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Representative Rowe was elected to represent District 13 of the Alabama House of Representatives, which includes Blount and Walker Counties.
Kyes Stevens is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. Starting in 2001, she has worked to design and build an innovative and sustainable outreach program that works with the underserved adult prison population in Alabama.
Willie Williams, Lt. Gen., USMC (Retired) is a senior consultant and owner/president of Williams Consulting, LLC based in Huntsville assisting the Department of Defense-supporting contractors and industries in strategic business development. Williams previously served as the chief of the Marine Corps Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.
“This process will allow both public officials as well as members of the general public to have a meaningful voice in the future of our existing prison infrastructure,” concluded Ivey.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95