Justice Department files new complaint against Alabama prisons

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – The US Department of Justice declared conditions in Alabama prisons unconstitutional three years ago. And today, they are still waiting for state action.

Overcrowding, violence and “dangerously low” staffing levels are some of the most significant problems in the Alabama prison system which are detailed in the most recent complaint of the DOJ.

“I think it’s just a continuation, obviously we haven’t had time to build these facilities,” said Representative Steve Clouse, sponsor of the state’s plan to improve the prison system.

The complaint details cases of inter-inmate violence and mistreatment of detainees by staff. The document states that “the state is deliberately indifferent to the serious and systemic constitutional problems present in Alabama men’s prisons.”

“I think there is some legitimacy to these complaints,” said Senator Rodger Smitherman. “And just the lack of staff on the guards will, unfortunately, create opportunities for this sort of thing to happen.”

The Alabama Department of Corrections said in a declaration that the additional complaint “Clearly ignores the years of information provided by ADOC regarding the substantial and impactful reforms it continues to undertake. “

The complaint also does not mention the state’s plan for two new prisons and the improvement of the others.

“This is going to address better, better working conditions for our employees,” Clouse said. “And as we go along the road, once the new prisons are built, the renovated Limestone and Jefferson County prisons, and one in Barbara County, will help to alleviate the situation of overcrowding. “

However, some lawmakers still frown on this plan because they believe more concrete measures should have been included.

“We need to provide additional incentives for people to take these jobs, that we need to change the salary, that we need to bring in additional medical staff and exempt them the same way we do for doctors who go. in rural areas, which we forgive. ready, ”Smitherman said.

Despite ongoing criticism, the prison construction project is expected to begin in 2022 and could take five years.

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