Category: Alabama Prisons

Work Release Suspension Has Hurt the Pockets of Inmates, Prisons and Victims

UPDATED — Responding to the coronavirus, the Alabama Department of Corrections suspended its work release program in mid-March, and figures for May show how that decision has led to a drastic drop in inmate earnings, the amount of restitution that work release inmates pay to their victims, and the amount of inmate earnings that goes to corrections itself.

Payments to victims were cut by almost $100,000 in May, which includes some time before the program was suspended, compared to February. Money to corrections was cut more than $700,000, and $534,000 less was deposited to inmates’ accounts. Read more.

DOJ Finds Excessive Use of Force In Alabama’s Male Prisons

In a report released Thursday, U.S. justice officials said men confined to Alabama’s prisons are subject to excessive force at the hands of correctional officers. They said the issue is pervasive and systemic and likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

In the 30-page document, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the three U.S. Attorney’s Offices for Alabama said prison staff regularly use batons, chemical spray and physical attacks to improperly and unjustly punish inmates. They said the excessive force can result in serious injury or death, citing two men who died in 2019 at the hands of correctional officers. Autopsies found both men were beaten so badly, they were left with intracranial bleeding and multiple head and body fractures.
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High Unemployment Hits Even Inmates; Prisons Losing Millions of Dollars

Nearly 40 million Americans are out of work. So are about 3,300 Alabama prison inmates eligible to work for private and public employers.

The Alabama Department of Corrections’ 22 work release and work centers, which include a center for women inmates based in north Birmingham, suspended operations March 18 because of the growing threat of the coronavirus. The suspension originally was slated to run through May 22, but it has not been lifted.

“At this time, the ADOC is working on a comprehensive plan to resume more standard operations but has not yet established a definitive timeline for resuming our work release and work center programs,” corrections information specialist Samantha Rose said in an email. Read more.

As Prison Project Moves Forward, Lawmakers Still Have Questions

Some Alabama lawmakers say they still have questions about Gov. Kay Ivey’s possible selection of private companies to build three state prisons, a process that so far has largely excluded the Legislature.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told Alabama Daily News he plans to send Ivey’s office a letter this week asking if contracting out prison services is an option she’s considering in bids recently submitted to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

“I’m just going to ask point blank,” Ward said. “I am going to be 100% opposed to privately run prisons. That’s a big policy shift that the Legislature should be involved in.”
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