Category: Alabama Prisons

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.”
Read more.

ADOC: 3 COVID-19 Cases Reported in Prisons, 1 Inmate Died After Diagnosis

The Alabama Department of Corrections on Friday reported the first three confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its prisons.
One of the diagnosed inmates, a 66-year-old with a terminal illness, died Thursday, but an official cause of death has not yet been determined, the ADOC said in a statement on its website. Read more.

Lawyers: Set Parole Hearings, Prevent Virus Spread in Alabama’s Crowded Prisons

A group of law school faculty members and former prosecutors has written Gov. Kay Ivey urging her to have the state Board of Pardons and Paroles hold expedited hearings to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to Alabama’s prison population.

“The Board should prioritize the release, if necessary into 14-day quarantine, of prisoners age 50 and over and those with compromised immune systems,” the letter stated. “Alabama should recognize the parole system as one avenue through which to ameliorate the public-health threat posed by our overcrowded prisons.” Read more.

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.