Alabama inmates protest being forced into solitary confinement

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Eight Alabama inmates declared a hunger strike at 12:01 Monday morning because they were forced into solitary confinement without giving them a reason. When ADOC responded after 5p.m. Monday, they did not give an official reason for why the inmates were put into solitary confinement at Holman Correctional from St. Clair Correctional.

Of the eight inmates, the Department of Corrections said three of them have eaten a meal now and three others say they are no longer on hunger strike. The inmates say they are protesting because they learned they were put in solitary confinement as a ‘preventative measure’ and *not* because they got in trouble for anything.

Inmates we’ve spoken to tell me the reason they go on a hunger strike is because it’s the only option to make their grievances known to those in power. They said violence is the only other option, and they say they aren’t willing to go that route. The inmates say violence is what makes people on the outside look at them like they’re animals and that’s the opposite of the message they want to send.

According to official documents given to at least two of the eight, they were moved from St. Clair Correctional Facility to Holman for quote “peace and tranquility on February 28 in the middle of the night following a raid of 300 law enforcement officers searching for contraband.

The documents say the inmate is placed in restrictive housing – preventative status until the warden decides to move them.

Inmate Robert Council was also moved February 28 to Holman Correctional and put in solitary confinement. His lawyer told WHNT News 19 he saw Council Friday at Kilby Correctional, where ADOC transferred him after six days of hunger strike at Holman.

Because of his security level, he cannot be in general population at Kilby. His lawyer doesn’t know when ADOC will transfer him.

The Alabama Department of Corrections gave this response when asked why the eight inmates were put in solitary confinement without disciplinary reason:

On Feb. 28, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) conducted a joint operation with more than 300 officers from multiple law enforcement agencies in an effort to find and remove illegal contraband from the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville.  In addition to the contraband search and for security reasons, 30 inmates from the prison were moved to the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.  Some inmates were in restrictive housing at St. Clair and continued in this status when they arrived at Holman.

The 30 inmates were moved from the St. Clair Correctional Facility to Holman Correctional Facility based on ADOC’s security assessment of the facility and were temporarily placed in restrictive housing when they arrived at Holman.

Restrictive housing units serve both an administrative and disciplinary security function.  Restrictive housing can be used for inmates who pose a threat to other inmates and for inmates who compromise the safety or security of the facility through the violation of rules and policies.  Inmates may be assigned to restrictive housing for administrative reasons, such as for personal protection from harm from other inmates, to hold a person temporarily until they are moved or reassigned to another facility, or for investigative reasons.

Today, a press release sent to the ADOC by the media lists eight inmates of the 30 moved from St. Clair Correctional Facility who have declared a hunger strike.  Among the inmates, three have stated they are no longer on a hunger strike and three inmates accepted a meal in the past 24 hours.

ADOC follows a strict protocol if an inmate declares a hunger strike and it is confirmed by medical staff.  When a hunger strike is confirmed, the person’s medical health and food intake will be monitored daily and they will continue to receive three meals each day.  Medical staff will also advise the person of the harm that not eating can cause to their health.

ADOC intends to reassign the inmates moved from the St. Clair Correctional Facility into general population at an appropriate custody level facility if they meet the criteria.

Solitary confinement within the state’s prison system is a focal point of an ongoing federal case involving mental health and the department of corrections. The problems within the agency run deeper than solitary confinement.

There have been four inmate killings so far this year, double that of this time last year.

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