Local activists in Montgomery, Alabama were joined by rights advocates across the country on Wednesday in condemning Republican Gov. Kay Ivey\u0026#039;s plan to use federal coronavirus relief funds to build three new prisons in the state—what the governor called \u0022an Alabama solution to this Alabama problem\u0022 of overcrowding.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nAt a rally outside the State House as legislators debated the plan, demonstrators spoke about some of the inmates and prison workers who have died of Covid-19—at least 69 people, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022Their blood is on your hands,\u0022 the protesters chanted, directing their anger at Ivey and Republican lawmakers, who ultimately voted Wednesday afternoon in the Alabama House to construct two 4,000-bed prisons. The legislation will now move to the state Senate.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIvey aims to build the new prisons using up to $400 million in Covid-19 relief funds, money approved as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in March and intended for states to bolster vaccination campaigns, education, unemployment assistance, relief programs, and other needs.\r\n\r\n\u0022To be clear, the current state of the Alabama prison system is abhorrent, but the use of Covid-19 relief funds to pay for decades of our state’s neglect is simply unacceptable.\u0022\r\n—Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.)\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nOn Monday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote to the U.S. Treasury Department, calling on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to prevent the state\u0026#039;s use of the funds \u0022to fuel mass incarceration.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nIvey\u0026#039;s proposal, Nadler said, is \u0022in direct contravention of the intended purposes of the ARP legislation and will particularly harm communities of color who are already disproportionately impacted by over-incarceration and this public health crisis.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022The ARP is a historic effort to provide urgent assistance in a time of great suffering,\u0022 Nadler added. \u0022It should not be used to worsen our national problem of over-incarceration.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nSimilarly to Ivey\u0026#039;s rejection of economic shutdowns in April 2020—when she said she would not order Alabama residents to shelter in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 as other states had done because \u0022we are not New York state, we are not California\u0022—the governor on Tuesday responded to criticism with an attack on Democratic leaders.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022The Democrat-controlled federal government has never had an issue with throwing trillions of dollars toward their ideological pet projects,\u0022 Ivey said. \u0022I would suggest to the New York congressman, and for that matter the federal government, that they worry more about the pending government shutdown and running the country.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nPolitical observers decried Ivey\u0026#039;s priorities as Alabama maintains one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just 42% of residents fully inoculated against Covid-19.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022The Republican Party in a nutshell: contemptible, cruel, and corrupt,\u0022 tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called on the Biden administration on Tuesday to issue formal guidance preventing states from using Covid-19 relief funds to expand their prison systems.\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nAlabama\u0026#039;s prisons were named the most over-crowded in the nation in 2019 in a study by the Equal Justice Initiative, with 21,570 people incarcerated—167.8% of the state prison system\u0026#039;s capacity.\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022It\u0026#039;s true that\u0026nbsp;Alabama’s prisons are in crisis due to violence and overcrowding. In fact, they\u0026#039;ve been in crisis for quite some time,\u0022 wrote Katie Glenn, a policy associate at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday. \u0022It\u0026#039;s not like we don’t know what needs to be done. Time and again, it\u0026#039;s been made clear that the path forward must include substantial\u0026nbsp;decarceration\u0026nbsp;by way of sentencing reforms, fixes to Alabama’s broken pardons and parole process,\u0026nbsp;or opportunities for resentencing for people whose sentences should be reviewed.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\nRep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) agreed with the organization, saying she was \u0022deeply disturbed\u0022 by Ivey\u0026#039;s plan \u0022especially as the virus rages on in our state.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022To be clear, the current state of the Alabama prison system is abhorrent, but the use of Covid-19 relief funds to pay for decades of our state’s neglect is simply unacceptable,\u0022 Sewell said.