U.S. Department of Justice sues Alabama Department of Corrections over prisoner violence, sexual abuse

Earlier in September, one inmate at Broad River died from the virus.
Earlier in September, one inmate at Broad River died from the virus.(WIS)
Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:22 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The U.S. Department of Justice sued Alabama Department of Corrections Wednesday.

The complaint names the action pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons to enforce the 8th and 14th Amendment rights of men in Alabama state prisons.

The complaint says the state violates civil rights by failing to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse, and excessive force by security staff in prisons for men.

The filing also mentions a failure to provide safe and sanitary conditions within prisons for men.

“The United States Constitution requires Alabama to make sure that its prisons are safe and humane,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice conducted a thorough investigation of Alabama’s prisons for men and determined that Alabama violated and is continuing to violate the Constitution because its prisons are riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence.  The violations have led to homicides, rapes, and serious injuries.  The Department of Justice looks forward to proving its case in an Alabama federal courtroom.”

In July 2020 in a letter, the Department of Justice alleged incidences of excessive force in Alabama’s Prisons for men.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama say there is reasonable cause to believe the conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

In April 2019, the department notified Alabama that the Alabama Department of Corrections fails to (1) protect prisoners from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; and (2) maintain facilities that are sanitary, safe, or secure.

This week the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner provided an update on their efforts to stop the violence inside the state’s prisons, as prison deaths by assault continue to rise.

ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said they have been hiring for third-party positions to investigate use-of-force incidents. Back in August, Dunn announced the new position to help keep leaders accountable.

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