FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2021
Christina Hollenback, 347-746-5521, email@example.com
Nancy Treviño, 786-201-8958, firstname.lastname@example.org
INVESTORS AND ACTIVISTS ASK BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO STOP STATES FROM USING COVID RELIEF DOLLARS TO BUILD PRISONS
The state of Alabama attempts to set dangerous precedent of using CARES Act funds to build three prisons rather than invest in needed COVID relief as state runs out of ICU beds
(New York, NY; September 23rd, 2021) Investors and advocates are once again coming together to stop a last ditch effort by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to build three new prisons, this time using CARES Act dollars intended to provide needed COVID relief for Alabamians while cases and deaths skyrocket. The state will convene a special legislative session next week to discuss the Governor’s proposal.
This comes months after this group of impact investors, business leaders, and social justice advocates successfully pressured Barclays, KeyBanc, and the Wisconsin Public Finance Authority to pull out of financing a $630 million taxable municipal bond offering by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) that would have built two new prison facilities with private prison firm, CoreCivic. In an unprecedented development, the original financing was rejected in both the public and private debt markets. Unfortunately, Alabama remains hellbent on building prisons that are not needed rather than addressing their looming COVID, healthcare, infrastructure, and education crises.
The latest letter signed by dozens of Investors, Foundations, and Advocates warns that using federal relief dollars to build prisons will set a dangerous precedent, enabling (and encouraging) other states to follow suit. Moreover, it will ensure vital relief and infrastructure projects in Alabama and across the nation remain unaddressed—causing catastrophic long term economic and human consequences.
“We ask the Biden Administration to explicitly prohibit any state, including Alabama, from using CARES Act, American Rescue Plan (ARP), infrastructure funds or any other federal dollars for prison construction projects. Aid should be allocated to communities in greatest need centering Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities who have been disproportionately affected by the crushing impacts of COVID-19 to ensure widespread and regenerative economic prosperity,” the letter cites.
“The proposed mega-prisons project in Alabama is dangerous, corrupt, and inhumane. Instead of wasting millions on incarceration schemes, Governor Ivey and the Alabama legislature should invest in much-needed relief for communities still struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of Presente.org.
“There are so many other needs in our communities,” said Veronica Johnson of the Alabama-based Communities Not Prisons coalition. “Our state doesn’t have enough ICU beds. Our K-12 students are suffering from learning loss. Yet Governor Ivey’s primary concern appears to be finagling funds to advance the most expensive and least effective response possible to our state’s prison crisis. We need investments in the recovery of our communities, not in more prisons.”
“The precedent Gov. Ivey is attempting to set would be devastating for generations to come not just in Alabama, but in other states who may try to follow suit. The Governor’s proposal is squandering a once-in-a generation opportunity to grow economic prosperity and resilient infrastructure and attract investment. The message must be clear to all states– using relief and infrastructure funds to build prisons is absolutely off-limits,” says Christina Hollenback of Justice Capital and one of the organizers of the letter.
“It is imperative the government keep investments in building the health and well being of communities, not invest in tearing families apart and depressing economic systems” says Renee Morgan of Adasina Social Capital.
“Trying to fix Alabama’s mass incarceration system by building yet even more prisons is not only a failure of the imagination but a complete and utter failure to the state’s taxpayers,” said Sancia Dalley, senior vice president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The CARES Act provides a rare opportunity for Alabama to address structural needs that have consistently been underfunded even before the pandemic. To co-opt this for the benefit of private prison companies—to the clear detriment of Black and Brown people, and those experiencing poverty— is abhorrent and requires the Biden administration’s immediate intervention before other states follow suit.”
Presente.org is the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group — and the nation’s premier Latinx digital organizing hub — advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Presente.org’s mission is to advance Latinx power and create winning campaigns that amplify Latinx voices; expand the political imagination and traditional boundaries; and foster inspiration for freedom, equity, and justice.