MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama representatives on Tuesday approved a budget that provides money for 500 additional corrections officers as the state seeks to stave off a lawsuit from the Department of Justice over prison violence.

The House of Representatives voted 103-0 for a general fund budget that includes funding for more officers as well as money to boost officer pay. The spending plan now moves to the Alabama Senate.

“This is a first step. It’s part of the plan.,” said Republican Rep. Steve Clouse, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

Clouse said much of a $40 million funding increase for the Department of Corrections is for the 500 additional officers and to boost pay by 20% to entice more people to work in state prisons.

The Department of Justice last week said Alabama is violating the Constitution by failing to protect inmates from violence and sexual abuse and by housing them in understaffed and overcrowded facilities. The deadline for the prison to respond is today.

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