Pubdate: Sat, 08 Mar 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Phillip Rawls, AP
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


ATMORE - Gov. Bob Riley spent Friday afternoon in prison, getting a
firsthand look at one of the biggest financial problems facing his new

"I wanted to see it, feel it and taste it," Riley said.

And he did.

The governor spent more than two hours touring Atmore's two overcrowded
prisons - Holman and Fountain - chatting with employees and inmates, eating
fried fish and scalloped potatoes being served to the prisoners, and
visiting Alabama's new execution chamber.

Alabama's major prisons, like Holman and Fountain, house 18,370 inmates in
space designed for 9,056. Beds are stacked two and three high, but the state
is under court order to take more prisoners out of jam-packed county jails.

Riley's prison commissioner, Donal Campbell, is seeking an extra $29 million
on top of this year's $204 million budget and wants a $330 million budget
for next year to provide more space and more correctional officers.

As he emerged from the prisons, Riley told Campbell, "Y'all are doing a good
job, but we just need to get you some help. If I have a choice between
adding another bed or another officer, I'll add another officer."

Riley said the state must also do something about the way prisoners with
drug problems are locked away for long terms when alternatives might be

"We can't sustain this level of incarceration," he said.

Holman Prison Warden Grantt Culliver said former Gov. Don Siegelman visited
the front office of the prison two years ago, but Riley was the first
governor in his memory to tour the entire prison.

The tour included death row and taking time to see problems like the leaking
roof and aging equipment.

Riley is no stranger to how the prison system operates. He has used work
release inmates in his businesses, but he said he had not been inside a
prison in more than 30 years.
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