MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama officials announced Thursday their plan to construct three new men’s prisons in Bibb, Elmore, and Escambia counties.
The plan to build three new prisons comes after years of controversy over the attempt to address the state’s prison crisis.
“We’ve known that this was a state issue for many, many years and we’re glad to see that Elmore County was selected for one of the locations for the new prisons,” said Elmore County Commission Chairmen Troy Stubbs.
The Elmore County community is not unfamiliar with living in close proximity to prisons. Three men’s correctional facilities and one women’s prison have existed in the county for years.
“Part of our population here in Elmore County is very comfortable with having prisons located there,” Stubbs said.
That is the case for Wetumpka resident Winston Hides who was born and raised in Elmore County.
“I see no problems with it,” Sides said. “As long as it’s run properly and it has for many, many years.”
However, the exact location of the new prison has yet to be determined and that has stirred controversy among county residents.
One of the location sites under consideration is just beyond Tallassee city limits, and some residents are not happy.
“I don’t see why they would put it that close to a school district,” said longtime Tallassee resident Jimmy Fullner. “You have little kids running around and you’re going to have child molesters, murderers, (and) rapists all in one little area.”
From an economic standpoint, the counties combined prisons employ nearly 700 people and brings in close to $30 million in payroll. The good news is; the building of the new prison is not expected to impact the county’s employment.
“We’re excited that if they choose to close some of our local prisons that they’re replacing it with this new mega-prison that will retain the jobs and possibly add more jobs to our community,” Stubbs said.
Stubbs went on to say that because the county already has a large number of trained employees working for the Alabama Department of Corrections, Elmore County made for the ideal location of a new prison.
“We already have people who have worked and dedicated their lives to the Department of Corrections for many, many years so with that workforce in place we knew Elmore County would be a prime location for one of these prisons,” Stubbs said.
How many more jobs the new facility is expected to bring to the county as well as the amount of revenue it’s supposed to generate has not been determined.
“We do understand that it is going to be a much larger facility,” Stubbs said. “It will be a great improvement in obviously the technology and things like that but it will also be a safe environment for the employees.”
The ADOC anticipates construction to begin in early 2021.