Gov. Kay Ivey is initiating some steps she hopes will stop the Department of Justice from filing a lawsuit over the state’s prison conditions.

The Governor’s Study Group on Criminal Justice met for the first time Monday. On its agenda is to find solutions for prison overcrowding, examine sentencing laws, and overall policies related to incarceration.

The prisons are becoming increasingly violent. Inmate deaths related to violence have been on the upswing, while many guards at the facilities have also been attacked. The situation is all-around dangerous.

Some of the reasons are simple to see. Most of the facilities are outdated, which causes overcrowding. The condition of the prisons also makes the use of modern security technology difficult.

One solution bounced about in the Legislature is to begin building new prisons. While that is likely to happen, that is not the full solution.

The long history of locking Alabamians away for extended stays, and the return of many inmates for multiple stints in prison, keeps the facilities too full for how they were designed.

The governor is on the right path to have the new commission study sentencing guidelines. Finding programs that give former inmates more opportunities to pull their lives back together in an economy that is booming also make sense.

Alabama’s pending problems with the Department of Justice were bound to happen. The issue has long been pushed aside, and a solution in any direction will be costly.

Ivey deserves credit for taking the initiative to look for answers and work with the feds in this matter.

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