Alabama GOP Governor signs bills to use Covid-19 relief funds to erect prisons into law

Ivey, a Republican, had called a special session of the Alabama legislature to discuss how to resolve what she called a decades-long problem with problems with prison infrastructure. The governor said Friday’s signing of the bill was the culmination of hard work and conversations between lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“I would like to personally thank the legislative leaders who stand behind me here, for a successful special session, and what we believe will bring untold benefits to all Alabamians in the days to come,” Ivey said.

The state legislature gave its final approval on Friday.

The federal bailout was enacted to help states close budget holes in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Biden administration has issued general guidelines on how the funds can be used, including by offsetting revenue losses to protect “vital public services”. The administration also encouraged state and local governments to use part of the funds to combat the summer increase in violent crime.

Using federal money in prisons would help all Alabamians, according to Ivey, who pitched the idea as easing the burden on taxpayers during prison construction.

“The Democrat-controlled federal government has never had a problem with spending trillions of dollars on their favorite ideological projects,” Ivey said. said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, calling the state’s prison infrastructure “broken”. “The point is that the American Rescue Plan Act allows these funds to be used for lost income 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’ve crafted a conservative plan that will cost the Alabamians the least amount of money to get the solution they need. “
Ivey was responding to a letter from House Judiciary Jerry Nadler to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her on Monday to “take all appropriate steps to prevent the misuse” of funds by Alabama and others States.

“Directing funding to protect our citizens from a pandemic to fuel mass incarceration is in direct violation of the objectives of ARP legislation and will particularly harm communities of color that are already disproportionately affected by over-incarceration. and this public health crisis, ”the New York Democrat wrote. “It should not be used to aggravate our national problem of over-incarceration.”

The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment on Ivey’s statements.

Pastor Robert White, who heads the Legal Advocacy Group, which advocates for the rights of detainees, previously told CNN that “we could use this money for mental health, on our sewage system. Covid is still ongoing; we should be using that money on our health care system. ”

“We’re not saying prisons don’t need to be built. We’re saying this money should go to mental health, to education, not to a plantation in the middle of nowhere. The problem doesn’t change. . The killings don’t stop you, ”he continued.

CNN’s Rachel Janfaza and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.

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