Crime: Investigation finds Alabama prison conditions are "unconstitutional" - PressFrom - US
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CrimeInvestigation finds Alabama prison conditions are "unconstitutional"

05:45  16 may  2019
05:45  16 may  2019 Source:   cbsnews.com

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Prisoners in the Alabama system endured some of the highest rates of homicide and rape in the country, the Justice Department found , and officials showed a “flagrant disregard” for their right to be free from excessive and cruel punishment. The investigation began in the waning days of the Obama

The Alabama prison system is already fighting a years-long SPLC lawsuit over the neglect of prisoners “Our investigation found reasonable cause to believe that Alabama fails to provide “In fact, the majority of the examples of unconstitutional conditions described throughout this letter

Birmingham, Ala. — Officials in Alabama have until next week to make changes to the state's troubled prison system. A Justice Department investigation found conditions in Alabama's prisons violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

Some of the 2,600 photographs taken inside Alabama's prisons show horrid conditions. Betty Head's 31-year-old son died after trying to hang himself in a decrepit cell block.

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EJI investigates abusive and dangerous prison conditions in Alabama —where prisons hold more than Alabama is an outlier in its refusal to meaningfully address its prison crisis, and EJI continues to challenge the Alabama Department of Corrections to reform unconstitutional prison conditions .

ELLIOTT: Alabama 's prison system is in crisis due to chronic overcrowding and severe understaffing. For example, the warden at Alabama 's death row prison reported to investigators that she has 11 security staff per shift for a prison population of 800. The Justice Department also found evidence

"The Alabama prison system killed my only son," Head said.

Her son, Billy Thornton, was just months away from finishing a six-year sentence for statutory rape. He was mentally ill, and inmates told Head he would cry for help, but routinely be ignored.

Alabama prisons have the highest suicide rate in the country, three times the national average.

Investigation finds Alabama prison conditions are "unconstitutional"© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Inside an Alabama prison

"Things are really out of control and need to be reined in," said Maria Morris of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Morris said mentally ill inmates, even those on suicide watch, are held in solitary confinement where they have little contact with officers. "What that basically means is they're warehousing them. They're sticking them into segregation units and letting them suffer," Morris said. It's not just the mentally ill who are suffering. A two-year Justice Department investigation found conditions throughout the entire Alabama prison system are "unconstitutional," and an "excessive amount of violence, sexual abuse, and prisoner deaths" happen on a regular basis, making the state's prisons a deadly place to work as well.

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DOJ: Alabama prisoners exposed to horrifying violence, rape; murders a 'regular' occurrence. The Justice Department said conditions in Alabama 's prisons deteriorated so badly they probably violate the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

DOJ Report Finds Widespread Rape, Murder, and Torture in Alabama Prisons . “Our investigation revealed that an excessive amount of violence, sexual abuse, and prisoner deaths occur within Alabama ’s prisons on a regular basis,” Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband and the three

Investigation finds Alabama prison conditions are "unconstitutional"© Credit: CBSNews pls-dem-ex-122-holman-seg-cell-1.jpg One worker at an Alabama prison who asked to be disguised for fear of being fired for speaking out said the situation is dire. "We need more mental health workers. We need more officers," the worker said. "More people are going to die." State prison officials said there are approximately 1,400 officers -- about half of what's needed to oversee a prison population of 16,000. Jeff Dunn, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, said $125 million has already been appropriated to raise staffing levels, curb violence and increase attention to inmates' mental health. "In the last couple of years, we've seen, first of all, the coming together of several partners who are committed to fixing this," Dunn said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Alabama Department of Corrections. A federal judge is forcing the prison system to make changes. Like the courts, the DOJ has issued an ultimatum of its own: change or be forced to comply.

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