SPLC Presents Its Own Plan to Improve State Prison System
More demands today for the state lawmakers to fix Alabama’s prisons after the federal government recently delivered a scathing report on the system’s current state of affairs.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey and the Department of Corrections with its own plan to improve prison safety.
This comes after the Alabama Department of Justice released a report saying conditions in the facilities were a constitutional violation.
“Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded, and under staffed, creating dangerous violent conditions both for staff, and for incarcerated people,” Senior Supervising Attorney for the SPLC Ebony Howard says.
In front of the U.S. District Court Tuesday, Howard laid out improvements she says are necessary if the state wants to see improvements to state prison safety.
“The Department should engage in deliberate and measured prison construction to address the housing needs of incarcerated people,” Howard says.
The proposed improvements include building new prisons and increasing staff.
Howard says safety should be the top priority.
“The third component, is that Alabama leaders have to reduce the number of people who are in Alabama prisons without threatening public safety,” Howard says.
State sentencing reforms were passed in 2015, which the SPLC says was a step in the right direction. But they believe more work needs to be done..
“We can increase the threshold for property related offenses and then we can establish and maintain a system of parole that permits people to leave the system when they have proven that they have been rehabilitated,” Howard says.
The SPLC wants to work with Governor Ivey and the Department of Justice to make sure the right measures are taken.
“The findings letter from the DOJ was clear that construction by itself is not going to solve this problem,” Howard says.
The SPLC says other reforms it would like to see in place include releasing rehabilitated prisoners who pose little threat to public safety and increasing the amount at which property and drug offenses trigger felony charges.
The Department of Justice went on to say if conditions don’t improve within the next two months, the state could see a lawsuit.