MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - The Department of Justice is putting pressure on lawmakers to address the state’s prison problems.
“The prison oversight committee has been really building deep into this and taking a lot of time communicating with the Department of Justice and our Department of Corrections here in Alabama, trying to find solutions to the issues that are at hand," State Rep. Proncey Robertson said Tuesday.
Robertson, along with Terri Collins, Parker Moore, Scott Stadthagen and state Sen. Arthur Orr, talked about problems with the state prison system to constituents in Morgan County Tuesday.
Robertson says the prison oversight committee has three main concerns: construction, sentencing reform and accountability.
“There are certain restrictions under the circumstances that they’re putting on us," Robertson said, referring to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ and Alabama Department of Corrections wants to reduce inmate count. Officials tell Alabama lawmakers new prisons can be built, but not expanded.
Robertson says lawmakers are working on retroactive sentencing as well.
“The large majority of the population are not those that we can release or can reduce or change their sentences anyway. What we’re looking at is lesser crimes, lesser felonies," Robertson said.
Right now, Alabama prisons are overpopulated by 160 percent.
Robertson says there’s not nearly enough correctional officers staffed inside all of Alabama’s prisons.
“The current number of correctional personnel that we have to manage those prisons, that population is an issue. It creates a lot of the violence we see inside, is because in short-terms it’s the lack of personnel to manage those prisons," Robertson explained.
All five lawmakers fully expect the Governor will call a special session in either October or January 2020.
It’s a meeting state legislators say they hope to work together to fix a problem that only seems to be getting worse.