By Mike Cason
Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday named former Tennessee prison commissioner Donal Campbell to head the
Alabama Department of Corrections.
Campbell, 51, will replace Mike Haley as the head of one of Alabama's most troubled state agencies. The
state's prisons are full and the state faces mounting fines from a circuit judge because it is too slow to
receive inmates from county jails. The state is also under orders from a federal court to improve conditions at its women's prison after a finding that conditions were so unsafe that they violate the U.S. Constitution.
Campbell headed Tennessee's prison system from 1995 until Saturday, when he was replaced by
Tennessee's new governor, Phil Bredesen, a Democrat. Campbell was an appointee of Republican Gov. Don
Campbell said Tennessee's prison system in the 1980s and 1990s faced some of the same problems
Alabama does today.
The major thing that I'm familiar with here in Alabama is overcrowding, Campbell said. That's going to take some resources.
Haley recently told lawmakers the prison system needs about a 70 percent boost in General Fund appropriations for next year.
Campbell and Riley said they would consider adding bed space to Alabama's system through private
companies. About 4,500 of Tennessee's approximately 18,000 prison beds are in privately owned facilities.
It's something that's under consideration. There have been no decisions made, Riley said of privatization.
Alabama has a prison population of about 27,000.
Riley said privatization would be an option for new facilities, not an option for existing facilities.
Campbell said he did not think the state could house prisoners more cheaply in private facilities, but that private
bed space could be added more quickly.
Riley credited Campbell with finding ways to save money in Tennessee's prison system, but Campbell said
that may not be possible in Alabama, which houses inmates more cheaply than any other state.
I don't think there's any more that can be saved here in Alabama, Campbell said.
Campbell is a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., and a graduate of Tennessee State University. He began his career in corrections in 1977 as a corrections officer.
Very seldom do you have somebody who started as a guard and works his way up through every position in
the prison system, Riley said.
Riley said Sundquist told him that Campbell did an oustanding job.
Campbell will receive an annual salary of $91,000.
A Little More about Donal Campell - August 7, 2002