Local sheriff weighs in on upcoming special called session


GENEVA, Ala. (WDHN) — Next week, state lawmakers will head to Montgomery for Governo Ivey’s special called session to consider a new plan for prisons due to urgent prison matters.

“They are already dealing with an overcrowding issue as it is so what that spills back over into is the local jails. We have inmates that are not going to the penitentiary they are paroling them right out of the jail,” Sheriff Tony Helms said.

Sheriff Helms said he hopes legislators can come up with a solution to house state prisoners whether it’s a private or state facility. Ivey’s plan is to build three new prisons including a 4,000-bed prison in Elmore County, one in Escambia County, and a women’s prison to replace the ancient Julia Tutwiler in Wetumpka.

“Our legislators can vote to do this but how is it going to be paid for that’s the next thing the state is going to have to look at,” Helms said.

Helms said even if they decide to build new prisons in the special called meeting, there will still be an issue due to having to wait when the facility will be completed and can house prisoners.

“Right now they are parolling and putting a bunch on probation and these inmates are violating that probation and they are coming right back to the county jail. Judges are sentencing them to 30 to 60 days to sanction them and then they are coming back again and they are running them from program to program to program,” Helms said.

Helms said he hopes the legislative stick to the prison discussion to come up with a solution next week, so the problem doesn’t linger any longer.

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