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State Rep. Clouse: 2021 prison solution ‘more positive’ than plan instituted by then-Gov. Wallace decades earlier

One of the biggest issues policymakers have had to grapple with in dealing with Alabama’s prison woes is determining ways to staff the facilities, which has often proved challenging because of geography.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Alabama’s corrections system was facing similar scrutiny from the federal government for Eighth Amendment violations as it is today.

However, one of the solutions to prisons woes instituted by then-Gov. George Wallace was to build smaller facilities scattered throughout the state, which in theory served the dual purpose of offering jobs to economically challenged areas in the state.

Forty-plus years later, Alabama was once again forced to deal with the issue, which in part could be traced back to Wallace’s decisions to build prisons throughout the state and the inability to staff.

A plan passed last year during a special session of the Alabama Legislature sought to remedy the problem with the consolidation of facilities.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), the chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee, explained this latest plan was superior to the Wallace effort four decades earlier for those reasons.

“I feel better about it now with this plan,” he said. “I know last time, and this is way before my time. I was at least in high school. You may not have even been born then. When that was going on with Governor Wallace, I mean this particular plan, as far as the consolidation, was presented at that time. And you know, they decided not to do it — to go along by building these smaller prisons in more rural areas, and of course, that is really one of the things that has hurt us because it is hard to find employees in some of these out-of-the-way places.”

“You’ve got to get more toward population centers to find the employees,” Clouse continued. “So, I think we’re going in that right direction, getting in those population centers, and plus going to areas where we already own the property. That helps us save money from that standpoint. I think this is more positive than that plan was many years ago.”

@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.