Category: Alabama Prisons

Prisons Close Doors to Many Incoming Inmates Because of COVID-19

UPDATED — Stepping up its response to one of its employees’ testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, the Alabama Department of Corrections said Friday its prisons will not take in any “new inmates from county jails for the next 30 days.” Others subject to the moratorium include those who have violated terms of their parole or probation and those ordered back to prison by a court.

In a news release, the department said it would “continue to receive inmates with severe medical or mental health conditions, subject to the usual review process by the Department’s Office of Health Services.” It said it would screen those inmates to ensure they have no symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. Read more.

First COVID- 19 Case in a Prison Reported

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 has surfaced in the Department of Corrections, the department stated in a news release.

The department said the person who tested positive was an administrative employee, not an inmate. Citing privacy and security reasons, the department did not disclose the individual’s name or workplace.

“We will closely monitor inmate health at all facilities,” the department stated. “All individuals within the Department who have been in direct contact with the individual who tested positive are now in self-quarantine for a 14-day period.” Read more.

Prison Reform Package Backed by Ivey Promises Better Rehabilitation and Oversight

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey has endorsed a package of criminal justice reform bills as a way to respond to systemic problems within Alabama’s prisons system.

There are five bills and one joint resolution, as well as a recommendation to increase funding for prison education programs by $4.2 million and improve access to mental health care. Read more.

Earlier reporting on this topic: Legislature to Get Bills Addressing Needs of Alabama’s Troubled Prisons

Legislature to Get Bills Addressing Needs of Alabama’s Troubled Prisons

MONTGOMERY — In her state of the state address to open the current legislative session, Gov. Kay Ivey praised the work of a study group she appointed to “address the needs to rehabilitate those within our prison system” and said she looked forward to working with lawmakers “on bills specifically designed to address some of these issues.”

Now it looks as if the rubber is about to hit the road.

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, one of six legislators on the prison study group and one of the Legislature’s experts on the overcrowded and violence-plagued prison system, said a package of prison bills that Ivey’s office is putting together could come forth next week, Ward said he said he may be the Senate sponsor of some of the bills. He also said he plans to hold hearings on the package before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is chairman.

As described generally by Ward, the measures in the package reflect some of the recommendations of the study group, which issued a report earlier this year. The governor’s office said it had no comment.  Read more. 

Study: Diversion Programs Work – When They Don’t Sabotage Participants

In a state where overcrowded, violence-racked prisons have been a longstanding issue, there are alternatives to prison — diversion is the common umbrella term — that are supposed to keep some offenders out of the system and give them help they need to stay out. These diversions take the form of entities such as drug courts, veterans courts and community corrections.

In many instances, these alternatives to prison are successful. But a new report states that in far too many cases, they hinder rather than help those they are supposed to serve.

“The perverse reality is that diversion programs actually drive many of the behaviors and circumstances they were devised to mitigate,” states “In Trouble: How the Promise of Diversion Clashes With the Reality of Poverty, Addiction and Structural Racism in Alabama’s Justice System,” a study by the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice that was released Monday. Read more.