Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AL Dept. of Corrections Selling More Land

Birmingham News

The Alabama Department of Corrections is selling three parcels of land around Limestone Correctional Facility as part of its ongoing effort to generate more funds for deferred maintenance and capital improvements.

According to a department news release, the largest parcel of land is 185 acres and the minimum required bid is nearly $5.1 million. Another adjacent parcel contains 122 acres; the minimum bid is nearly $3.4 million. The third parcel contains 120 acres; the minimum bid is $3.3 million.

"This is the latest in a series of land sales our department is proceeding with to convert unused property to capital," said Corrections Commisioner Richard Allen. "We plan to use all proceeds to make much needed and long overdue improvements at our facilities."

Allen said ongoing improvement projects include sewer and plumbing renovations at Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore, a new kitchen at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, a new dorm for the Decatur Work Release Center, "and much more is needed."

The prison system is overcrowded, needs additional staffing, and is already dealing with a budgetary shortfall.

According to the Deputy Commissioner on prisons Vernon Barnett, there are currently 455 poeple in Alabama prisons right now for simple possession of marijuana. That costs $5,915,000.00 That is just the cost to house them at $13,000 a year.

Then there are others there under a different classification but who were originally there for possession of marijuana. They failed a drug test or couldn't pay the probation officer or court referral officer or missed an appointment and were sent back to prison at a cost of $13,000 a year. I do not know how many are currently there for that. A lot would be my guess.

Then there are those there for being drug addicts who used meth or cocaine or bought a Lortab off the street. They would do better in treatment and it is cheaper too.

Overall drug offenders make up 30% of the Alabama prison population.

Assuming the majority of drug offenders are there for non-violent drug offenses the Alabama prison system could save $117,000,000.00 a year and have all the money they need to run the corrections department if they would stop imprisoning people for what they ingest. They could focus their attention on the dangerous people who are a threat to society like rapists, murderers, child molesters and armed robbers. They could pay the guards more and recruit better people. The could make the guards safer and reduce the likelihood of a riot by reducing overcrowding if they would just get their heads out of the sand and realize that prison is not the place for drug users and prison resources are being squandered on an issue they were never intended to address.


sixstring said...

There is also the group of people in prison for trafficking when it was really just personal use such as the couple in Baldwin county who were busted for growing one pot plant. Mr. Shoop got a three year sentence for this. His wife got one year.

Loretta Nall said...

I never heard what Bruce and Linda got.

And you make a good point. There are many people in jail or prison for going halvies on a quarter bag because neither could afford the whole thing. When they split it they get charged with trafficking. Most 'traffickers' as you started are there for selling to support their own personal use. There are very few if any 'drug kingpins' in Alabama prisons. If they arrested the kingpins then there would be no small fish to round up and stuff in prison cells and no big, fat cop welfare checks known as BYRNE grants.

sixstring said...

Yeah, you didn't see any stories like "Man Sentenced To Three Years for One Marijauna Plant". I wouldn't try to assert a religious defense in front of this judge.

I wonder how many drug task force Byrne grants are in the new stimulus package?