Alabama prison system seeks 'master plan' for construction

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama prison system is taking a first step toward possibly building new prisons.

The Department of Corrections announced Friday that it plans to hire a project management team to develop a master plan for the construction of new prisons and renovation of existing facilities.

The department asked interested companies to submit qualifications for the work.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the system has "serious infrastructure needs." Dunn said the plan "will provide a blue print for long-term fixes."

Alabama prisons have come under fire for overcrowding, understaffing and the quality of mental health care.

Lawmakers this spring debated a plan to build four new mega-prisons, but the legislation failed under concerns about the cost and the loss of jobs when existing prisons closed.