The Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a prison construction plan after a five-hour debate over the state of Alabama’s prisons and whether construction can correct problems within them.

The vote was 74 to 27, mostly on party lines. The bill moves to the Senate. 

The $1.3 billion proposal calls for the construction of two men’s prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties, each with at least 4,000 beds. The Elmore facility would provide medical, mental health care and rehabilitation services for inmates. Construction would be funded by a $785 million bond; $400 million in COVID money and $150 million from the General Fund.

Supporters say the bill would address rampant violence within Alabama’s correctional facilities. House Ways and Means General Fund chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, the sponsor of the bill, called the legislation a “win-win-win” situation for Alabama, saying it would save money, address the DOJ lawsuit and create a safer environment for staff and inmates.