Robert Bentley reacts to prison reform bill’s Senate progress

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Gov Robert Bentley speaking
Gov. Robert Bentley

Gov. Robert Bentley and the GOP-led Legislature in Montgomery haven’t been known for getting along – some expect this year’s Legislative Session to possibly hit another snag over the budget yet again.

But Bentley did come out Wednesday with a bouquet of rhetorical flowers for Alabama lawmakers when it comes to the prison reform act currently circulating in the statehouse.

The bill — approved by the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee this week — would attempt to overhaul the state’s notoriously ailing prison system by providing an $800 million revenue bond for the demolition of 14 of Alabama’s 16 prisons and subsequent renovation of the remaining two. The bill further provides for the construction of four new prisons, three male and one female, which will pay off the bond through perceived savings.

 “For decades, Alabama’s prisons have become increasingly overcrowded, dangerous to both inmates and our corrections officers and incredibly costly to taxpayers. I commend the Senate committee for passing the long needed Prison Transformation Initiative Act out of committee today,” said Bentley in a statement.

“This bill will allow Alabama to take the next step toward constructing four new prisons, which will provide safer conditions for our corrections officers as well as inmates in facilities such as Tutwiler Prison for Women. Alabama can and should be a national leader in safe and effective incarceration of inmates. I look forward to continuing a partnership with the members of the Legislature to make Alabama a truly great state,” Bentley concluded.

The bill was OK’d by the finance panel with just one dissenting ‘No’ vote, cast by Huntsville Republican Sen. Paul Sanford.

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