State House resumes talks on prison construction bill

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Lawmakers in the Alabama House have resumed work on the state’s stalled prison construction bill.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon confirmed Thursday House members are tweaking the bill that passed the Senate in March with a plan that would also replace the Tutwiler Prison for Women. The new plan would also lease new men’s prisons built by local communities.

With the legislative session nearing an end on May 22, McCutcheon said prison construction is a priority and the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the bill on Tuesday.

Newly minted Gov. Kay Ivey supports the construction legislation, which was first proposed by her predecessor former Gov. Robert Bentley as a solution to prison over-crowding across the state.

As of September, Alabama prisons were at 175 percent of their intended occupancy — housing  roughly 23,000 prisoners in facilities designed for 13,000.

In October, the U.S. Justice Department opened a statewide investigation into violence, rape, overcrowding, among other problems and conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men.