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Alabama House says COVID-19 funds should be used for prisons

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Alabama lawmakers are heading toward swift approval of a prison construction package. It would tap $400 million dollars in pandemic relief funds to help pay for building three new lockups. The House of Representatives voted 74-26 for the $1.3 billion dollar construction plan. Almost the same margin voted to use dollars from the American Rescue Plan. The plan to use pandemic funds drew sharp criticism from some Democrats, including the state's lone Democratic congresswoman. Republican Governor Kay Ivey has argued that it's appropriate because the American Rescue Plan says states can use some of the money to replace revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

DOJ is suing the State over its notoriously violent prisons. Ivey says improved infrastructure could stave off that litigation. Critics say the problems go beyond building conditions and the state shouldn't use pandemic relief dollars to build prisons. APR’s national award winning investigation into prison reform can be found at apr.org.

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