In an important step toward upgrading unsafe conditions throughout its prison system, the state of Alabama has awarded Caddell Construction Co. a $623.6-million design-build contract for a 4,000-bed "megaprison."

The Elmore County project is the first of two 4,000-bed men’s prisons Alabama officials are planning to build. State officials signed the contract for the work with the Montgomery, Ala.-based firm effective April 15.

The future prison will provide enhanced medical and mental health services, says Gina Maiola, a spokesperson for Gov. Kay Ivey. The prison-building program follows a 2020 U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit filed against Alabama that alleged an investigation had uncovered unsafe and unsanitary conditions inside state prisons.

“The new facility will create a safer security environment for inmates and security personnel,” Maiola says.

Caddell Construction didn’t respond to requests for comment on the project, but it has previously worked on a variety of other corrections facility design-build projects, including a U.S. penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, and a county jail in Florida that it completed last year. Caddell ranks No. 111 on ENR’s 2021 Top 400 Contractors list with $815 million in revenue the year before. 

In addition to building the two new men’s prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties, Alabama has plans to build a smaller women’s prison and renovate several other existing prisons as part of a $1.3-billion program. As ENR previously reported, Ivey signed a bill package last fall to issue $785 million in bonds and allocate $150 million from the state’s general fund to pay for the work. Controversially, it also set aside about $400 million in federal COVID-19 relief money for the prison projects.

Construction is expected to take about three years. Maiola says the timeline remains on schedule.