Not much is known about the progress of the construction of the two new mega-prisons approved by the Alabama Legislature after a special session in 2021.

The two facilities, one in Escambia County and the other in Elmore County, were thought to be needed promptly as the Alabama Department of Corrections continues to be under the scrutiny of the federal government.

However, according to State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), progress has been lacking on the facilities.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Elliott criticized the Ivey administration for how the executive branch initially handled the process and how the corrections system could be falling further behind by not planning for more prison capacity.

"Not well," the Baldwin County lawmaker replied when asked about the progress. "I mean, that's the short answer. The executive branch, for the longest time, talked about the need for more prisons. The executive branch, for the longest time, decried the inability of the legislature to work on this problem, tried to go around the legislature in order to solve this problem – really sucked all of the oxygen out of the argument and the need for the legislature to act while they tried to unilaterally solve this problem, failed to solve this problem. And then, the legislature picked up the pieces of the failed prison program from Governor Ivey and was able to do what we knew we needed to do all along, which was fund new prison construction. And the legislature has done that over a year ago in a special session."

"Now, it is incumbent upon the executive branch to execute that plan and get those prisons going, especially the one in Escambia County, which is still not moving," Elliott continued. "The money is there. The designs are there. Let's get on with it, and we need to move that along quickly. And then frankly, Jeff, I think we need to start talking about whether we need more prisons as we go forward because as population increases and as crime increases, and as we start prosecuting more criminals and as we hopefully start keeping more criminals in jail where they belong after our law enforcement folks have worked so hard to put them in jail, then we may very well need to look at more prisons."

"So, I'm ready to go. I'm ready for the Governor to go," he added. "I'm ready to get this moving. It is taking too long, and let's get on with it."

During a November interview with Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Ivey insisted the Elmore County facility would be completed in the first quarter of 2026. However, she did not offer a specific date for the Escambia County facility beyond saying it would be completed "shortly thereafter" the Elmore County project.

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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