Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey talks about what needs to be done to fix the state’s prison system.
Brad Harper, Montgomery Advertiser
One of the entities Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections announced Monday as a possible finalist for a $900 million prison construction project is a group with no business registration in any neighboring state and no online presence beyond the little the governor’s office has said about them.
Alabama Prison Transformation Partners was one of five that Gov. Kay Ivey’s office on Monday said had handed in a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ), a form the office is using as a prerequisite for finding bidders to put up three new men’s prisons in the state.
But the entity’s online presence is limited to a press release sent by the governor’s office on Monday, and media reporting off the release. A search of business records in Alabama and surrounding states on Monday failed to find any companies filing incorporation papers under that name.
Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who has led prison reform efforts in the Legislature, said in a phone interview Monday that the company was a mystery to him.
“I’ve never heard of this company before,” he said.
The Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) said in an email Monday that the group was a “joint venture” but declined to identify the firms involved in the venture. Requests for comment from the governor’s office Monday were not successful.
The SOQs aim to determine which companies displayed the fiscal fitness to undertake the project, which would put up three new men’s prisons holding 3,000 to 4,000 inmates each. Ivey’s administration is pursuing a “build-lease” option, in which the state would contract to build the new prisons, then lease them from the builder. The project would not need legislative approval.
Ivey’s office says they want to break ground on new prisons next year. A press release said a request for proposals would go out this fall. The office said they hoped to have proposals in hand early next year.
The other companies that submitted SOQs were The Geo Group, Inc., based in Boca Raton, Florida. which operates private prisons; Rhode Island-based Corvias, LLC, known chiefly for managing military housing; Pennsylvania-based Corrections Consultants, LLC, which presents itself as a managing and consulting firm, and Nashville-based CoreCivic, the former Corrections Corporation of America, another private prison operator.
Alabama’s prisons face a torrent of violence. A Department of Justice report in April found inmates subject to kidnapping and sexual assault, and violence directed at staff members. DOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn for years has argued that the current prisons are past their intended lifespan, dangerous for inmates and staff and lack space for rehabilitative and educational programming that could reduce recidivism.
But attempts to build prisons in the past have run into opposition from the Legislature, who have either balked at the high price tag or raised concerns about the closing of existing facilities in their districts. Some have also questioned whether the construction of new prisons will address the problems within.
The Advertiser Monday filed an open records request with Gov. Ivey’s office for the SOQs. The Advertiser earlier this year requested copies of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) on the project from the Alabama Department of Corrections. The department denied the request.
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