As somebody who was raised in the streets of Ensley, I can tell you that there isn't a mother in Alabama praying we build a bigger, more expensive prison for her child. She’s praying, “Lord, you better get ahold of him or her, ‘cause I can’t do anything with them.”
I understand that some of our prisons have deteriorated with age. We have deteriorated schools too (and houses for that matter). It happens. I also understand that with new and improved prisons, we may see some cost savings and I also understand that Alabama must comply with court orders to ensure necessary inmate care. However, back when I was considering a run for governor, we were discussing the governor’s proposal to invest around one billion dollars in new prisons that would not even solve the overcrowding problem. I was aghast. We can build the largest prisons on earth and talk about consolidating resources, but if we don’t work to eradicate the source of our problems, those facilities will be overcrowded and deteriorated soon enough.
I will propose increased partnerships with the faith-based community, non-profits, and vocational schools, and colleges to bring back structure to the daily lives of our prisoners, instructive educational, release and diversion programs for inmates and more effective treatment programs for drug offenders. While there is a cost to sin and crime that we must bear, I hope that for every dollar that goes into construction, we will spend an equal amount to give prisoners hope beyond the bars and reduce recidivism.