Presente | New prison construction is not COVID relief!
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New prison construction is not COVID relief!

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    The Message

    Dear Biden administration and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen,

    We are calling on your administration to explicitly prohibit any state, including Alabama, from using CARES Act, American Rescue Plan (ARP), infrastructure funds or any other federal dollars for prison construction projects.

    Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law allowing the misuse of $400 million in federal COVID-19 relief and infrastructure funds to construct two new prisons, setting a dangerous precedent with national implications. If permitted to proceed, we believe a disturbing standard for the use of these funds will be set, enabling (and encouraging) other states to follow suit. Moreover, it will result in vital relief and infrastructure projects in Alabama and across the nation to remain unaddressed.

    Earlier this year, together with community based organizations in Alabama, national allies, business leaders, and investors we were able to stop the largest proposed private prison project in Alabama. Investors have proven they are not interested in economic growth based on mass incarceration and would be far more willing to support economic growth sustaining and vitalizing communities.

    If permitted to use federal dollars, the State will squander a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our communities for productive infrastructure like K-12 and early childhood education, access to high quality and affordable healthcare, clean water and sanitation, as well as promoting a green economy through the transition to renewable energy sources.

    We urge you to prohibit all states, including Alabama from using CARES Act, American Rescue Plan (ARP), infrastructure funds, or any other federal dollars for prison construction projects. Aid should be allocated to explicitly center and uplift widespread economic prosperity, with a specific focus on historically-excluded Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.


    Sincerely,

    [your name]

    Elected officials in Alabama passed a bill to use $400 million in federal COVID relief “lost revenue” funds to build two new prisons and Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law. While using these particular funds for prison construction does not appear to be prohibited under current federal guidelines, it is a gross misuse of COVID relief funds that would expand mass incarceration while diverting $400 million from investments in actual community needs.

    Earlier this year you joined us as we came together with our partners in Alabama and nationally with a common purpose – to ensure no corporation profits off of human cruelty. Thanks to our shared struggle we were able to stop the largest proposed private prison project in the country.

    Once again, we need all hands on deck to ensure Alabama legislators are stopped from using COVID relief funds to build new prisons. If Alabama is permitted to get away with using hundreds of millions of federal COVID relief funds on prison construction, it will set a dangerous precedent that other states are sure to follow. What is happening in Alabama right now has dire implications for people living in states across the country.

    Join us and call on the Biden administration and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to say: NO state, including Alabama, should be permitted to use CARES Act, American Rescue Plan (ARP), infrastructure funds, or any other federal dollars for prison construction projects. Aid should be allocated to explicitly center and uplift widespread economic prosperity, with a specific focus on historically-excluded Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.

    References:

    Albright, Amanda, Moran, Danielle. “Treasury Urged to Ban Use of Stimulus Aid to Build New Prisons.” Bloomberg News. September 24, 2021.

    Gunn, Erik. “Barclays exits controversial Alabama prison project.” Wisconsin Examiner. April 19, 2021.

    Investors, Business Leaders, and Advocates Encouraged as Barclays, KeyBanc Capital Markets, Inc. Drops Prison Muni Bond Deal.” Presente.org. April 19, 2021.

    Albright, Amanda, Moran, Danielle. “Stifel No Longer Part of Scuttled Alabama Prison Bond Deal.” Bloomberg. May 10, 2021.

    Burkhalter, Eddie. “Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs bills approving prison construction into law.” Alabama Political Reporter. October 1, 2021.

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