On a call with lawmakers on Friday, January 29, administration officials shared information that showed the projected total lease payments for private prisons were expected to be $94 Million the first year and increasing each year thereafter. The total cost over 30 years for the three proposed prisons (Bibb, Elmore, & Escambia counties) is estimated at slightly more than $3 Billion.
Chris Nelson, a Montevallo resident who works with Alabama Students Against Prison Projects said there will be another meeting coming up this week with Regions Bank. He believes that Regions is still financially backing the group planning to build the Bibb County Prison. The Regions announcement last week to back away from CoreCivic did not remove any funding commitments Regions may have involving the Bibb County Project.
Nelson said that State Auditor Jim Zeigler has been openly opposed to Governor Ivey’s plan to lease private prisons. In addition, several other elected officials, including Chris England and Rich Wingo, both of Tuscaloosa, have publicly questioned the project.
An article that appeared today in Forbes magazine highlights the influence that Black Lives Matter is having on private prison funding in the U.S.
According to Forbes: “The bank explicitly noted this announcement as part of their “100% commit[ment] to creating more inclusive prosperity and advancing racial equity.” In a year marked by numerous corporate announcements of commitments to justice and racial equity, with varying levels of follow-through, it’s important to see companies like Regions Bank practicing what they preach.”
“This announcement comes in the wake of historic opposition of the cozy relationship banks and private prisons have enjoyed for decades, with over $2.6B in bank financing. In November of 2019, activists protesting the role of private prisons in the nation’s family separation crisis arrived on the doorstep of Regions Bank in Birmingham, Alabama.”
Article Update: Cara McClure, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter, executive director of Faith & Works, and former state coordinator for Black Voters Matter told the Bibb Voice that the meeting with Regions Bank included her as a representative of BLM, Lamar Black as a representative of Faith and Works and Josh Thompson on behalf of Alabama Students Against Prisons.