Alabama’s GOP Governor Redirects COVID-19 Funds to Erect Prisons
Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed several bills on Friday that reallocate federal funds that were designated for COVID-19 relief efforts to construct prisons – and even she convened a special session of the State Legislature to get it done.
“I’d like to personally offer my thanks to the legislative leadership who are standing behind me right here, for a successful special session, and what we believe will yield untold benefits to all Alabamians in the days ahead,” Ivey said at the signing ceremony, adding that it was a “pivotal moment for the trajectory of our state’s criminal justice system.”
Earlier this week, Ivey accused congressional Democrats of abusing their legislative power to advance “ideological pet projects” and insisted that what her ailing state really needs – rather than additional hospital beds – is jail cells, all without a single shred of irony.
“The Democrat-controlled federal government has never had an issue with throwing trillions of dollars toward their ideological pet projects,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday. “The fact is, the American Rescue Plan Act allows these funds to be used for lost revenue and sending a letter in the last hour will not change the way the law is written. These prisons need to be built, and we have crafted a fiscally conservative plan that will cost Alabamians the least amount of money to get the solution required.”
CNN noted that “the proposal included using up to $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief money, up to $785 million in bonds and no more than $154 million from the state general fund to add prisons and renovate others.”
Right-wing GOP lawmakers, unsurprisingly, were fiercely supportive of the inhumane measures.
“It’s the right thing to do. We can’t expect people to come to work when they don’t know they’re going to be able to leave work alive. We can’t expect to house people, inmates, in conditions that are deteriorating and unhealthy. We’ve got to fix the problems. The prisons are falling in,” Republican State Senator Greg Albritton said on Monday.
Alabama has both the highest coronavirus death toll and the third-lowest vaccination rate in the United States.