Editorial: Sexual assaults at Tutwiler Prison for Women

The following is an editorial from FOX6 WBRC-TV General Manager Lou Kirchen, first aired on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

I am going to talk with you about a very difficult adult subject. If you have children in the room you may want ask them to leave.

Okay, here we go. Does anyone ever deserve to be sexually assaulted, even raped…woman or man? And, then should that behavior ever, in any circumstances, be condoned because the perpetrator is an employee of our legal system… a guard… and the victim is a prisoner?

I have read this U.S. Department of Justice letter and report sent to Governor Bentley…a twenty-six page report on the sexual assaults of women prisoners at Tutwiler Prison. These kinds of acts have been going on for years, says the report.

In fact, the report reads, "For over eighteen years, ADOC (Alabama Department of Corrections) and Tutwiler officials have been aware of staff sexual misconduct at Tutwiler and have failed to implement the changes necessary to remedy this harm."

The report states that "in the eighteen years since notifying ADOC and the Tutwiler officials of inappropriate sexual activity between staff and prisoners, problems in the area of sexual abuse and harassment have only gotten worse."

Again, from the report: "At least thirty-six of the ninety-nine total employees were identified as having had sex with prisoners---approximately 36% of current staff. "

I can't begin to cover all of the atrocities described in the report.

Over the last two years, Beth Shelburne has done a series of stories on the conditions at Tutwiler. We have been told things are improving at the prison. We have repeatedly asked to tour the facility to see the changes, and they have refused to allow our cameras in…why?

Prison is just that. It's not meant to be an easy. But, we're not a third world country. In fact, we live in a state where we share our beliefs regarding morality and our religious faith openly and with great pride, as do many of our elected officials.

So, I end with this…Governor, please let us in.

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