Influential Birmingham leaders are divided about the recently passed plan to construct new prisons in Alabama, but they don't appear to be fans of state leaders' overall approach to Alabama's long-term prison challenges.
Those were a couple of takeaways from this month's Birmingham Power Poll, which surveys influential local leaders each month on key topics in the community.
The Birmingham Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but does offer a window into the perspectives of influential Birmingham community and business leaders.
Nearly half of respondents (48.6%) said they agreed with the Alabama Legislature's recent decision to use $400 million Covid-19 relief money to help fund a $1.3 billion plan to build two new prisons, compared to 51.4% who disagreed. That's one of the closest margins in the history of the Birmingham Power Poll.
Of course, the state of prison facilities is just one of several major problems facing the state's prison system, with conditions in the prisons drawing scrutiny from federal officials.
Despite pushes for large-scale changes from prominent lawmakers in the past, many proposals stalled in Montgomery over the years and challenges piled up. Power Poll respondents took notice.
More than 42% of respondents said they would give the Alabama Legislature an 'F' for its approach to addressing issues with the state's prison system.
They weren't very impressed with the efforts by the executive branch, either. It also earned an 'F' from more than 42% of respondents, although a higher percentage of respondents gave the executive branch at least a 'B.'
This month's Power Poll surveyed 137 members with a response rate of 25.5%.