Despite a special session of the legislature approving a $1.3 billion prison construction plan and modifications to the state's sentencing guideline last October, Alabama continues to see struggles within its prison system.

Jeff Dunn was replaced at the end of last year as Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) commissioner by John Hamm, formerly the deputy secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Homicides and drug overdoses continue to plague the state's correctional facilities. Additionally, convicted felons are being declared eligible for release under questionable circumstances, as was the case with the criminal record of Austin Patrick Hall, the 26-year-old convicted felon charged in the murder of Bibb County Deputy Sheriff Brad Johnson on June 30, 2022.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) discussed the problems with Alabama's corrections system and called on Gov. Kay Ivey and Hamm to follow up on the legislature's actions and to get the system "out of the ditch."

"Being a former county commissioner and a quasi-executive, if you will, it is frustrating to be in the legislature where your job is to appropriate funds and to pass laws," Elliott said. "But the implementation of this falls squarely on the executive branch. The executive branch has got to grab hold and drive and make sure that we get this out of the ditch. Is it in the ditch? Yes. Do we need to get it out? Yes. The legislature has shown leadership, even though we were referred to as a herd of turtles, and had figured out a way to solve this funding problem. The money is there, and yes, we need to tweak some of our laws to make sure we deal with the 'good time' issues. But the executive branch has got to implement this and has got to make sure that this is run properly.

"Let me clear up what I mean when I say, 'executive branch:' The Governor and her appointee have got to manage this. I agree with Steve Marshall on every single one of his points and will be happy to carry and/or vote on all of the suggestions that he has made. When I talk about the executive branch, I am talking about the Governor [making] sure that she fixes through her appointee these problems. The legislature has provided the funding – everything and more that they have asked for. Now it is time for them to drive and get this out of the ditch."

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