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Opinion: Alabama’s use of Covid aid funds to build prisons must be stopped

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In a state where 28% of residents are black, still they make up 43% of people in prison and 54% of people in prisonAccording to the True Justice Institute, this use of relief funding is a scandalous and discriminatory act and demonstrates a terrible lack of progress in racial justice for the state and the country.
This comes months after a group of investors, business leaders and social justice advocates with pressure Barclays, KeyBanc and others will benefit from funding from a $ 630 million taxable municipal bond offer by the Alabama Department of Corrections that would have built two new prison facilities with private prison firm CoreCivic.
Despite this, and despite the cries of the coalition of non-prison local communities, as well as other investors and advocates, which they have cited the movement as cruel and fiscally irresponsible, Governor Ivey and Alabama lawmakers remain determined to build prisons and use Covid aid funds to help them do so, rather than mitigate a pandemic in a state that it has only come out in recent weeks. their UCI bed deficit, and where 79% of hospitalized adults are not vaccinated.

Covida aid funds should be spent on hiring and paying health workers, expanding hospital facilities and beds to care for critically ill patients, supporting public health campaigns to increase vaccination rates, and more. Don’t put more people in cages.

Still, Ivey has done it defended the play as a fiscally conservative, noting that “while the prison infrastructure is broken, our capacity for government is not.”

This convoluted logic needs to be turned around quickly. The use of federal dollars in aid to build prisons is a dangerous precedent that allows, even encouragingly, other states to follow suit. In addition, it will ensure that the alleviation of the vital pandemic in Alabama (and potentially nationwide, if other states take Ivey’s leadership) is not addressed, perhaps causing catastrophic long-term economic and human consequences.

The decision is a vivid example of a worrying pattern on the part of Republicans in conservative strongholds to use the money for wish lists with political charges. In Galveston County, Texas, county commissioners are spending it $ 6.6 million to Covid aid fund for security on the US-Mexico border wall. In Wyoming, a Republican lawmaker the use of funds was suggested to back down against President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for businesses.
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In 1963, Robert F. Kennedy, then Attorney General, helped harness the power of his brother John F. Kennedy’s presidential pulpit to drive and implement innovative changes in racial relations, actions that ultimately led to the introduction of civil rights legislation.
Biden must break the silence on this blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars, especially in Alabama, a state that is sadly behind the curve in all aspects of social services, from access to and public health care, a wastewater infrastructure a education for children and more, and that explains it one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

Building more prisons doesn’t make communities safe, and it never has. Instead, it reinforces the trap of our nation’s partially racial criminal justice system, which disproportionately attracts the poor, blacks, browns, and indigenous people to the system, inflicting physical and psychological harm on them in the process, separating and destabilizing families, creating barriers. to the occupation and erection systems that give rise to recidivism.

The rescue of the Alabama Department of Corrections through the use of Covid aid dollars they so desperately need elsewhere feeds and reinforces the corruption and mismanagement it has the agency suffered for decades. This includes human rights abuses inflicted on most black prisons.

Only by explicitly banning any state from using federal dollars for these purposes will we finally focus on communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by the shocking crushers of the Covid-19 to recover and achieve economic prosperity.

Inaction on this issue is nothing but injustice.

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