Protestors gathered in front of the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business on Feb. 10 to show their disapproval of Gov. Kay Ivey’s $3 billion plan to build private prisons in Alabama.
The group protested in front of the Harbert College of Business because the private prison in Bibb County is being built and owned by BL Harbert International, said Morgan Duckett, senior in industrial design. BL Harbert International is owned by Billy Harbert, who is related to Auburn Board of Trustee member Raymond Harbert.
“We are protesting [Auburn’s] Board of Trustees and BL Harbert’s position to profit off of incarceration,” Duckett said.
Duckett said that Harbert should not be involved with the private prisons because he is on Auburn’s Board of Trustees. Duckett does not want this connection to reflect poorly on Auburn University so students can continue to be proud of the Auburn family.
Auburn alumna Jess Sharpton said she joined the protest to support students in their fight against private prisons because she feels Alabama’s government is prioritizing profits over citizens. She said that fighting against this motive of profit will help restore a sense of community.
“All over the South, we want to be family, but the way to do that is to fight for the people that need it,” Sharpton said.
Chloe McMahon, senior in English literature, said that Alabama Students Against Prisons organized the protest. McMahon serves on the leadership council for Alabama Students Against Prisons and said that more than 300 students from 28 universities are members of the coalition.
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McMahon said that Alabama Students Against Prisons advocates for solutions to incarceration that focus on rehabilitation. She said that rather than building new prisons, she believes Alabama’s government should repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act, decriminalize drug use and better run social welfare programs.
“I oppose [Ivey’s private prison plan] because I think it is a really bad deal for Alabama," McMahon said. "I think the solutions that we need for our prison crisis aren’t new buildings."
McMahon said that on Feb. 20, members of Alabama Students Against Prisons are joining with state-wide organizers at the capitol in Montgomery to protest Ivey’s private prison plan. Alabama Students Against Prisons shares information about protests on Instagram.
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