Prison Reform Tops Legislative Agenda Again

Prison Reform
Overcrowded state prisons once again top legislative agenda.


In Draper Prison, there are 14 corrections officers per shift for 1,100 inmates.

“Some have described us more akin to the department of warehousing,” says corrections commissioner Jeff Dunn.

Built in 1939 and stuffed with almost twice the number of inmates it was designed for, Dunn says it is a perfect example of why the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative is needed.

Inmates are held in dorms where one corrections officer has the responsibility of more than 200 inmates. “That’s fine if nothing ever happens if everything is always calm,” says Dunn. “But, everything is not always calm.”

The kitchen and dining area at Draper is another problem. They serve three thousand meals a day using a kitchen that is too small, with leaking pipes, a compromised floor and sanitation issues. “The inmates are aware of the conditions just like we are,” says Dunn.

It’s a broken prison system that lawmakers will try to fix again. If approved, the initiative would close 14 of the 16 state facilities and build so-called regional “super prisons” at a cost of $800,000,000.

Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to make it one of the main topics of his state of the state address Tuesday night.

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