Gov. Bentley Announces New Prison Reform Task Force
Governor Robert Bentley announced a new task force to tackle the tough issue of Alabama's prison system. And the Southern Poverty Law Center says it's long overdue.
The Prison Reform Task Force will be responsible for new spending strategies, making the most of the limited general fund budget that the department of corrections receives.
The state found that Alabama's prison system is the most crowded in the United States, leading to many serious problems.
"I think the time is now because we're at 192% overcrowding and it's an issue that is not going away. We need help, we need help from those who believe that it should be resolved," said Governor Bentley.
A major problem plaguing the prison system is medical care. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report that says prisons are violating federal law and failing to provide adequate medical care, particularly to disabled inmates.
Maria Morris with the SPLC is encouraged with the new initiative, but she says she has her concerns.
"We are afraid that there has not been an appropriate sense of urgency. There are people in our prisons who are dying. A lot of people are dying and suffering unneccesarily," said Morris.
The state is still reviewing the SPLC's report, but the Kim Thomas, Commissioner of Alabama Department of Corrections says inmates' health is a top concern.
"I'm proud of our delivery of healthcare services. Actually, the inmates in our care, the quality of the care is much better than most Alabamians who are uninsured. We want to know specifically out of a concern for patient care," said Thomas.
The SPLC says that even though these people have committed crimes, they still deserve proper treatment because they're people too.