Can COVID funds be used for Alabama’s prison system? Local lawmakers seek to find that answer

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — It is a question Alabama lawmakers discussed with Governor Kay Ivey in Montgomery on Tuesday. Can a portion of the federal COVID relief funds be used for the Alabama prison system?

According to Alabama’s 86th District Representative, Paul lee, there is a good chance the Alabama legislature will go into a special session to decide how to fund the estimated $3 billion needed to improve the state’s prisons.

He said there are a lot of questions about whether COVID relief money appropriated to Alabama can be used for that purpose.

According to Lee, Representative Steve Clouse is part of a committee aiming to get answers. He said they know the required prison improvements will be quite expensive, so they want to try to use COVID money to save Alabama tax dollars.

“We have been anticipating a special session, I think of the answer of where we can use these monies,” Lee said. “That will determine when the special session will come.”

Representative Lee tells WDHN that Alabama lawmakers realize how important prison improvements are, especially after the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state last year due to dismal, indeed too often fatal, conditions in Alabama prisons.

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