Study group meets to find solutions to state prison problems

Gov. Ivey holds first criminal justice study meeting

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - In an effort to avoid a federal lawsuit, Governor Kay Ivey's study group on criminal justice policy met Monday.

The Department of Justice released a scathing report detailing horrific scenarios within some of Alabama's prisons.

“We need this working group to examine the data and find recommendations and good policies that could be considered for possible solutions so we’ll keep all options on the table," Ivey said.

The group is tasked with looking at data and possible solutions to the problems. Many lawmakers said overcrowding was a major issue.

“I can tell you this. I’ve toured every prison in this state and I can tell you how I know it’s overcrowded. You see it first hand," said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster.

Lawmakers expressed interest in putting more resources towards programs to help prevent people from going to prison in the first place.

“My expectation is that we look at this in a holistic approach," said Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.

The group agreed that more correctional officers are needed. They are faced with a court order to have 4,021 total security staff. Currently the Department of Corrections has 2,074 total security staff.

The group is made up of six lawmakers, the Attorney General, State Finance Director, Corrections Commissioner, and the Governor. Governor Ivey has put Justice Champ Lyons as the chair in her place when she is not there.

Many members of the group seem optimistic they will have policy recommendations for the state legislature. This study group will continue meeting until the Regular Legislative Session begins in February.

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