Governor Bentley visits Holman Prison, addresses overcrowding & understaffing

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Holman Prison in Atmore, Ala.

Holman Prison in Atmore, Ala.

ATMORE, Ala. – Tuesday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said prison uprisings will occur in other facilities in the state if the problems of overcrowding and understaffing aren’t addressed.

Bentley visited Holman prison in southwest Alabama – a prison that has seen two violent disturbances over the past several days. Prison officials said inmates stabbed the warden and a corrections officer at a prison in Holman on Friday and inmates seized control of the dorm for several hours Monday after officers tried to apprehend a prisoner suspected of stabbing another inmate.

Bentley said the problems in Alabama make it dangerous for the inmates, the guards and the wardens.

Before the recent uprisings, the governor already was asking state legislators to approve an $800 million bond issue to build four new, large prisons.

Initial riot

The initial disturbance started Friday around 9:15 p.m. and ended Saturday morning. An estimated 100 inmates started a fire in the facility and tried to gain control of one of the prison’s dormitories. After the riot ended, CERT teams searched the prison’s housing units and found 30 cellphones, makeshift knives and other contraband, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

The corrections officer who was stabbed Friday night is recovering. Warden Carter Davenport, who was also stabbed, reported to the prison on Sunday.

Holman Prison remains on lockdown. Corrections officials have temporarily cancelled visitation.

The governor’s office said Holman is a maximum security prison designed to house 637 inmates. The current population at Holman is 991, which is 156% of design capacity. The facility is overcrowded, and there is a shortage of corrections officers.

“Disturbances like what has occurred in the last three days are some examples of the issues that have plagued Alabama’s prison system for decades,” the governor’s office said in a press release.

Second riot

Emergency response teams were back at Holman Correctional Facility for a second time Monday following another stabbing. The assault happened between two inmates, according to Bob Horton, spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Horton said the assault happened at 8:30 a.m. Monday in a prison dormitory. One inmate stabbed another with a makeshift weapon, and corrections officers responded to the incident and removed the victim. The person is expected to survive.

Horton said when officers tried to get the suspect under control, the inmate and others resisted. Prisoners became aggressive and barricaded themselves inside the dorm. The Alabama Department of Corrections said officers secured all sections of the prison to prevent the inmates inside the dorm from entering other parts of the facility. Approximately 70 inmates were in the dorm at the moment. No officers or other inmates were hurt.