OUT OF STATE PRISONS
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 10:34 PM
Subject: out of state prisons
By PHILLIP RAWLS
Associated Press Writer
February 19. 2003 6:43PM
Gov. Bob Riley, like his predecessor Don Siegelman, is considering housing Alabama prisoners in other states.
The question Riley must answer is: Can the state afford it as a short-term solution to prison overcrowding?
Riley must tell a federal judge Friday what he plans to do to alleviate overcrowding at the state's only women's prison, Tutwiler Prison in
Wetumpka. The prison houses about 1,000 women in space designed for 617, including additions over the years. The state is also facing a state judge's order to alleviate a backlog of 757 state inmates in county jails.
Riley's prison commissioner, Donal Campbell, told legislators Tuesday that this year's $204 million appropriation is insufficient. Campbell said he
needs an additional $29 million this year and $126 million more next year.
Riley said Wednesday he is still studying the prison systems' financial situation and hasn't locked on to any numbers yet. But he said he agrees
with the Alabama State Employees Association that guards are having to watch too many inmates in dangerous conditions.
"It's probably going to take some more money. How much we don't know," the governor said.
Riley said his administration plans to hire more parole officers to increase the number of inmates getting paroled and is looking at housing inmates in
out-of-state prisons, particularly Louisiana.
"This is only a temporary solution. It allows us to do something immediately," Riley said.
Brian Corbett, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said the department would like to reduce Tutwiler's population through more paroles. If that doesn't work, then it would like to limit any prisoners sent out of state to those women coming into the prison system, rather than those already at Tutwiler, he said.
In August 2001, Siegelman's administration was facing the same overcrowding issues and got proposals from privately run prisons to house
Alabama's male prisoners. LCS Corrections Services of Lafayette, La., offered the low bid of $22.25 per inmate per day, but Siegelman dismissed
the idea as "way too expensive."
He announced his decision minutes after a human rights group filed suit to stop the transfer of Alabama inmates to Louisiana. In the end, Siegelman left office without solving the overcrowding problem, and Riley inherited it.
LCS President Patrick LeBlanc said Wednesday he would again be interested in housing Alabama prisoners - both men and women - at his four prisons in Louisiana and two in Texas. Two of the Louisiana prisons house female prisoners in sections that are segregated from the male facilities, he said.
LeBlanc said his prisons can hold 3,300 inmates, and he usually holds between 2,100 and 2,300 inmates for county, state and federal governments.
LeBlanc said the Riley administration hasn't sought a bid from him, but "we are always interested in working with new clients."
Riley said his administration will tell U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on Friday that the state will hire more parole officers - about 29 - so that the state parole board can free more inmates and provide them with supervision.
The parole officers will concentrate initially on female inmates, but will gradually handle inmates from all of Alabama's prisons, Riley said.
Riley said his goal is to get Tutwiler Prison into compliance with federal court rulings by fall.
"We want the judge to understand we are serious about this and we are going to fix the problem," Riley said.