By Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama plans to spend up to $500,000 dollars with a consulting firm to help make changes at a prison thrust into the national spotlight over accusations of widespread sexual harassment and abuse.

Under a proposal before a legislative committee Thursday, the state would pay The Moss Group up to $499,900 over the next 18 months.

The Washington D.C. firm is being hired to help Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act and improve safety at the prison and other facilities.

The U.S. Department of Justice in January accused Alabama of violating the constitutional rights of Tutwiler inmates. The report said the prison had a “history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harassment.”

Gov. Robert Bentley announced the hiring of the firm earlier this month.

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