MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The following statement is from Ebony Howard, senior supervising attorney for SPLC Action Fund:
“Commissioner Dunn’s proposed hiring of 500 new corrections officers in the second half of Fiscal Year 2020 is a piecemeal approach to a much larger problem. The state has failed to face the hard truths of its needlessly overcrowded, understaffed, unsafe prison system for years, and that failure has produced a crises Alabama can no longer ignore. ADOC’s own analysis provided to the Court states that it must hire 2261 new corrections officers and 130 new corrections supervisors by February 2022 to meet basic legal and safety standards for both officers and prisoners. The proposed salary increases are also far less than what ADOC has been told will be required to hire the necessary staff.
“Commissioner Dunn and the Ivey Administration are on a fool’s errand if they think they can simply build their way out of this crisis. While some of Alabama’s aging prisons do need to be replaced, a real and permanent solution to this crisis will require a new vision for Alabama’s criminal justice system. In addition to the staffing levels the state itself acknowledges is necessary, that vision must include sensible alternatives to incarceration for those who can safely be diverted, shorter sentences for individuals who demonstrate progress, and more support for rehabilitative programming to close the revolving door. Instead of pushing through a multi-billion dollar construction proposal, Commissioner Dunn and Governor Ivey should work with the legislature to develop a plan that will increase the safety, security, and staffing of Alabama’s prisons while decreasing the population and the costs. Only through an approach that combines public safety with fiscal responsibility can Alabama’s prison crisis be resolved.”