Robert Bentley’s prison reform plan scaled back, dies in final minutes of legislative session

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Gov. Robert Bentley‘s massive plan to build four new prisons faced an eleventh-hour failure as it died Wednesday, just minutes before the Alabama Legislature’s 2016 session wrapped at midnight.

Earlier in the evening, a conference committee reached a compromise and scaled back Bentley’s prison construction plan to include two new men’s prisons, rather than the initial three, and a new women’s prison to replace Julia Tutwiler Prison. It also dropped the maximum amount of the bond issue from $800 million to $550 million.

As clock countdown to midnight, the Senate passed the compromise 23-12 as the clock read 10:50 p.m., granting the House 70 minutes to tackle the bill.

But the bill was never brought up in the House before time expired Wednesday night.

Auburn Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard, said the legislation did not have the votes to break an inevitable filibuster in the chamber.

“I did not want to waste the membership’s time,” Hubbard said from the chair.

Bentley had announced the massive prison reform project in his 2016 State of the State address in February and took reporters on tours of overcrowded state prisons.

The governor’s press office did not have an immediate response to the bill’s failure.


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