According to the Associated Press, Alabama legislators are moving forward with a controversial plan to make use of COVID-19 relief money to build new prisons.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation authorizing the use $400 million from American Rescue Plan to partially finance the new prisons.
Democrats oppose the plan, arguing that it is an inappropriate use of pandemic relief funds.
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Alabama legislators advanced Friday a controversial plan to use $400 million from federal COVID-19 relief funds for two new prisons.
According to The Associated Press, the state legislature approved a plan for two new prisons to be built and renovated existing facilities. This total amount is $1.3 billion. $400 million of federal funding was provided by President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.
According to the AP, six prisons would be closed under the new plan.
The state received $400 million under the ARP, which is approximately 20% of its total funding.
GOP Governor: "This is a pivotal point for the trajectory of state's penal justice system," According to a report by The Associated Press, Kay Ivey spoke at the signing of the legislation.
Republicans who supported the legislation argued the appropriate use of the funds because of a provision in the $1.9 trillion plan that allowed states funds to be allocated to supplement lost revenue and bolster state services. The Associated Press reported that Republicans who supported it.
Alabama did the right thing by doing this. Our infrastructure is in disarray. People are living in filthy conditions. According to the AP, we have individuals who work in unsafe conditions," Republican State Senator Greg Albritton stated.
Democrats opposed the plan, and claimed it was an inappropriate use of ARP unds. The Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, wrote this week to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to stop the ARP funds being used for prison construction, according to the AP.
According to the report, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated Wednesday that she would be surprised if such was the intent of funding.
According to the AP report, Juandalynn Givan, Democratic State Representative of Alabama stated that there were many needs in Alabama and many people who require these funds. They saw an opportunity to grab the Biden money ($400 million), because it was liquid water flowing through them and said, "OK, let's get on it!"