May 03 2007

U.S. raises funding to $40 million for 1,400-inmate Pickens prison

Birmingham News

By Mary Orndorff

WASHINGTON - Federal money for the planned prison in Pickens County got an unexpected boost when the U.S. Department of Justice increased its 2007 budget for the project above what Congress originally had sought.

The federal Bureau of Prisons is now planning to set aside $40 million this year for the 1,400-inmate facility in Aliceville, up from the $25 million a congressional committee approved last year. With $15 million already awarded in 2006, the project now has $55 million toward the total cost of between $195 million and $230 million.

Environmental impact studies have begun for sites in Aliceville, but construction is not likely to start until more money is appropriated.

"This prison will be an economic engine for all of West Alabama, bringing numerous jobs and significant economic development to the area," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who announced the 2007 funding.

The federal facility would have mostly medium-security inmates and some minimum-security inmates and employ about 350 people.