MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - After close to four years of intense scrutiny, Alabama's only maximum security prison for women will close.
Governor Robert Bentley announced the planned closure of Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka during his State of the State address Tuesday night. The closure is only part of a broader transformation of the state prison system the Governor first detailed in his speech.
Bentley said aging prisons will be consolidated and replaced by four, new facilities.
"By constructing a brand new female prison facility, the State of Alabama will permanently slam the door shut on Tutwiler Prison for Women," said Bentley.
The Governor said the ambitious new prison initiative would be funded by "an adequate bond issue" and would begin later this year.
In 2012, Montgomery-based law firm Equal Justice Initiative filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of fifty women, alleging widespread sexual abuse of female inmates by prison staff. That was followed by a scathing federal report that described a "repressive and intimidating environment" in which "inmates reported being in fear of retaliation from staff if they reject staff's sexual advances."
Since then, Alabama's Department of Corrections has focused on reforming the prison and in 2015, ADOC reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Tutwiler prison. No criminal charges against officers involved in the abuse were included in the settlement.