The Alabama Senate has approved a state general fund budget that gives additional money to the state prison system.
That’s part of an effort to comply with a court order to overhaul the health and mental health care provided to inmates. Last summer, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the prison mental health system was “horrendously inadequate” and that changes had to be made.
The proposed spending plan would send an additional $51 million to the Department of Corrections next fiscal year. Maria Morris with the Southern Poverty Law Center says that is a good start, but it’s unlikely to fully address the lack of health care or the staff shortages in state prisons.
Senators delayed a vote on a proposed three percent pay raise for state employees. Sen. Trip Pittman, the chairman of the Senate budget committee, says there are ongoing negotiations because some senators also want a cost-of-living increase for state retirees.
As is, the General Fund budget passed the Senate 26 to 2 and now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for debate.