Hearing set May 14 in Jim Zeigler suit against Kay Ivey prison lease plan

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A hearing has been set on state motions to dismiss a lawsuit by State Auditor Jim Zeigler and three other plaintiffs who seek to block a $3.6 billion prison lease plan by Gov. Kay Ivey.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin will hear a filing by Attorney General Steve Marshall to take over Zeigler’s official claim and then dismiss it.  He will also hear motions to dismiss the entire case.  The hearing is 9 a.m. Friday, May 14 at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

The plaintiffs allege that the prison plan violates the state constitution by creating state debt over a 30-year period.  They also allege that the plan violates state law by not having approval by the Alabama legislature.

Zeigler calls the plan “a 30-year mistake.”

“The Ivey plan would force Alabama taxpayers to pay rents starting at $94 million a year and going up to $106 million.  At the end of 30 years, the state would own equity in the prisons of zero.  No equity.  This is a bad business plan,” Zeigler said.

“The plan does not address the problems in the prison system – safety of staff and other inmates; overcrowding; mental health; suicide; recidivism; and inadequate job training.  The plan merely throws over $3.6 billion of taxpayer money into rented buildings,” Zeigler said.   

“We thought this plan had been killed off April 19 when the two largest underwriters pulled out of the project, but the Ivey administration is stubbornly pushing forward.  There are two giant signed contracts already executed.  This lawsuit is needed to make sure the plan is good and dead,” Zeigler said Thursday.

Other plaintiffs are State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham); Leslie Ogburn, a homeowner adjacent the proposed prison site near Tallassee, Al; and Rev. Kenny Glasgow, a prisoner rights activist in Dothan.
 
Zeigler says an intentional decision was made to file a non-partisan lawsuit.