Covid relief funds should be spent to hire and pay health workers, expand hospital facilities and beds to care for critically ill patients, support public health campaigns to increase vaccination rates and much more. Not put more people in cages.
That convoluted logic must be quickly turned on its head. Using federal relief dollars to build prisons sets a dangerous precedent, enabling, even encouraging, other states to follow suit. Moreover, it will ensure that vital pandemic relief in Alabama (and potentially across the nation, if other states take Ivey’s lead) remains unaddressed — causing perhaps catastrophic long-term economic and human consequences.
Building more prisons does not make communities safe, and it never has. Instead, it reinforces the trap of our nation’s racially biased criminal legal system, which disproportionately draws those who are poor, Black, Brown and Indigenous into the system, inflicting upon them physical and psychological harm in the process, separating and destabilizing families, creating barriers to employment and erecting systems that result in recidivism.
Only by explicitly prohibiting any state from using federal dollars for these purposes, will we finally center communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the crushing impacts of Covid-19 to recover and achieve economic prosperity.
Inaction on this issue is nothing more than injustice.