Alabama leaders, ADOC acknowledge prison violence is a serious issue, plans in the works

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - In one month, from early December to early January, three inmates in three Alabama prisons were stabbed to death, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

ADOC said the deaths are under investigation, and in each situation the inmate fatally injured was found dead. A total of 136 inmates died in fiscal year 2018 of all causes.

ADOC said the homicide rate is a quote 'priority concern' for its agency. Recently, the Equal Justice Initiative reported Alabama's prisons are the most lethal in the US.

"There is a direct correlation between the level of prison violence and the shortage of correctional staff in an overpopulated prison system with limited resources for rehabilitating offenders," Bob Horton, ADOC's Public Information Officer, said. "The proliferation of drugs and criminal activity inside prisons also contribute to an increase in violent incidents."

To deal with the staff shortage, ADOC said they are 'aggressively recruiting' and attempting to retain officers by increasing pay and training.

Additionally, on December 20, 2018, a guard was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into the Fountain Correctional Facility. During the month, six other people were arrested for allegedly trying to bring drugs, alcohol, and weapons into the prisons.

Governor Kay Ivey's Office sent a response to the homicide reports.

"Governor Ivey is committed to correcting the generations-old issues with Alabama's prison system. She is deeply concerned by the conditions and the level of violence within our prisons," Daniel Sparkman, the governor's press secretary, said. "This is an Alabama problem and we will have an Alabama solution. Governor Ivey is working with the Department of Corrections and others on plans for moving our state forward, and those plans will be released in the coming weeks."

The attorney general's office also provided a statement about the inmate deaths.

"Everyone recognizes that Alabama's prison system is facing a number of challenges," Mike Lewis, attorney general's communications director, said. "While it is often the duty of the Attorney General's Office to prosecute crimes committed in prison; prison facilities, staffing levels, and inmate healthcare are under the control of the Department of Corrections."

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