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State Sen. Stutts: Probably a ‘yes’ on prison construction; Not in favor of adding sentencing reform issues

Another one of the Alabama Senate districts that could be a net loser if the legislature passes the prison proposal before it in next week’s special session is the Alabama Senate District 6, currently represented by Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia).

The Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Center, operated by the Alabama Department of Corrections, is located south of downtown Hamilton in northwestern Alabama’s Marion County, and it could be on the chopping block.

However, Stutts says he supports the framework regarding the new mega-prison construction but opposes efforts to address sentencing reform, which is part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s special session call.

“I think it’s probably a good framework to iron out all the details of,” he said. “I’m probably a ‘yes’ on prison construction. What I’m not in favor of is adding a bunch of other things to the prison issue right now in a special session. You know, I don’t want to deal with a bunch of sentencing reform issues and stuff in this special session. Those can wait until the legislature is in session. As far as I’m concerned, this special session is about the prison construction, and that’s the part I want to deal with in this special session.”

“As Governor Ivey has said, this is something that has been neglected for decades,” Stutts continued. “I supported Governor [Robert] Bentley’s prison construction program in just the first year I was in the Senate, which would be seven years ago. I was in favor of that. We do need to do something. Our prisons are in bad shape. They’re overcrowded. There’s a lot of money that can be saved by consolidating some services and modernizing the prisons. A major problem the Department of Corrections has is staffing. With some modern features in some of the prisons, you know, actual less staffing would be required. A modern prison is much easier to be protected in and much more secure than some of the facilities that we certainly have that are many, many decades old. So, they’ll be more efficient to operate, and that will actually save some money and save some staffing.”

As for the possibility of the legislation leading to the closing of the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Center, Stutts said he hoped an accommodation could be made that would allow for the facility to remain a part of the system.

“I am very hopeful to negotiate something with that facility as far as what’s in the bill,” he said. “I’ve talked to numerous people about it and have already talked to the Governor’s office about it. That is very important to Marion County, and I would not like to see it closed. I would like to see it stay open. Again, I’m sensitive to the idea that we’ve got to consolidate some services. But there are not very many facilities in North Alabama.”

“It’s a good location,” Stutts added. “It’s been there a long time. It’s a vital part of the community. It amounts to about 100 jobs for Marion County. I would like to see it stay open. Hopefully, something is going to be worked out. I think if we build a third prison down the road, North Alabama has got to be considered for one of the locations.”

Stutts proposed Marion County as the possible location for a third prison given its readily available workforce and its proximity to Interstate 22.

@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.