Tag: Alabama prisons
Alabama officials announced Thursday the location of three new regional prisons planned for Bibb, Elmore and Escambia counties.
In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey’s office said the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) will now enter into negotiations with two private developer teams who will build the facilities and lease them to the state. ADOC will still operate and staff the prisons, but the private developers will be responsible for long-term maintenance. Officials said they will announce financial details of the project in late 2020, after final negotiations.
The new prisons will replace several existing male facilities, which are chronically overcrowded, understaffed and violent. ADOC is currently under a court order to improve conditions and hire roughly 2000 correctional officers. It is also in negotiations with the US Department of Justice to address violence among both inmates and staff.
Since being authorized to hold parole hearings under a special order from Gov. Kay Ivey, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles has held more than 1,200 hearings and granted 253 paroles. In the past, the board has held public hearings. But because of the pandemic, it is holding hearings in which it reviews materials submitted by the interested parties. Read more.
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.
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.
A fourth inmate in the Alabama prison system has died after testing positive for the coronavirus. Read more.
A third Alabama prison inmate has died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Department of Corrections announced today. All three inmates to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus have been at the St. Clair Correctional Facility. Read more.
The Alabama Department of Corrections faces a Friday deadline to outline a plan to meet court-ordered staffing goals. State Rep. Chris England says the prison system needs new leadership. Read more.
Nearly 100 employees of the Alabama Department of Corrections have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 16 whose positive tests were announced today. In a news release, the department said each of the 16 employees has self-quarantined. Read more.
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.
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.”