State Signs $623 Million Contract For 4,000-Inmate Prison

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials have signed a $623 million contract to build a new 4,000-inmate prison in Elmore County, part of a sweeping construction plan that will be partly funded by pandemic relief dollars.

A spokeswoman for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey this week confirmed the state signed a contract with Caddell Construction Co., effective April 15 for construction of a specialized men’s prison facility in Elmore County. The Alabama Department of Corrections on Friday released a redacted copy of the contract. The document indicated the “initial guaranteed maximum price” for the contract is $623 million, an amount that two key lawmakers said matched initial cost projections.

"We are anxious to get this going. We need these facilities pretty badly. I'm excited that we are going forward with it," Republican Sen. Greg Albritton said.

Alabama lawmakers this fall approved a $1.3 billion prison construction plan that will use $400 million from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan funds to help pay for the construction. The construction plan included the new prison in Elmore County with at least 4,000 beds and enhanced space for medical and mental health care needs.

Ivey in October called the construction plan, “a pivotal moment” for improving the state’s criminal justice system. Critics of the plan said it did not address the prison system's underlying problems, such as low staffing, and was not a proper use of pandemic relief funds.

The approved legislation also included another prison with at least 4,000 beds in Escambia County, a new women’s prison and renovations to existing facilities.

Lawmakers had expected one of the construction contracts to go to Montgomery-based Caddell Construction. The legislation specified that, instead of the normal bid process, the state instead could negotiate directly with entities that were part of development teams that qualified for the projects under a lease plan Ivey’s administration had pursued but abandoned. Lawmakers said that would save time and build on the work already done.