Alabama lawmakers gain funding to help mental health issues in state prisons


Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday approved an $85 million increase for the state's prison system as they try to comply with a federal court order to improve mental health care for inmates.

The House of Representatives approved $30 million for the Department of Corrections before September and a $55 million boost in next year's general fund budget. Nearly $5 million will go toward purchasing a private prison in Perry County.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama's prisons was so "horrendously inadequate" that it violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The prison system is attempting to boost staffing levels and improve mental health services in the wake of the directive from Thompson to improve conditions.

"We knew that the solution, whatever was agreed upon, was money, and lots of it," said Rep. Steve Clouse, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means General Fund committee. "Those are going to be recurring costs so next year we've got to face that again."

The money helps the department of corrections comply with a federal court order to improve mental health care behind bars.

A federal judge calls mental health care in Alabama's prisons, quote 'horrendously inadequate'.

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