Alabama inmates on strike for better prison conditions
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Inmates across multiple Alabama prisons are striking and refusing to do their jobs until conditions improve.
This comes after the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Alabama over unsafe conditions inside the state’s male prisons.
The Alabama Department of Corrections said inmates are striking and not doing their daily jobs, like preparing prison meals, but they said the facilities are still operational.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay Town said the state’s prisons are unsafe, unsanitary, and understaffed.
“It is no secret in the state of Alabama that the prison conditions are less than ideal,” Town said. “In addition to sexual and physical violence that goes on routinely inside the male facilities, the facilities themselves are dilapidated. There deteriorating, they are unsafe. Whether the plumbing isn’t working or the showers aren’t working. We need better prisons in Alabama. There really is no other way to say it.”
Town said the conditions aren’t safe or sanitary for the workers either. This is one reason many are understaffed.
“Those people are not going to be willing to go work as a prison guard or someone who works in prison administration if the facilities themselves are dilapidated and terrible and it’s an awful place to work because of all the violence going on,” Town said.
Town said the conditions won’t go away or improve until steps are taken to move forward.
“It takes money to do that,” he said. “It takes will and effort to do that. Often times, there is not a lot of political will to improve prisons when we can improve schools for instance.”
“Between 70 and 80 percent of every person inside the Alabama Department of Corrections is a violent offender,” Town said. “The people that are there deserve to be there.”
Town said livable conditions in prisons are an 8th amendment right and until the state makes changes, the DOJ will keep suing. Once that lawsuit comes to a resolution, depending on what happens, Town said it could impact taxpayers.
“You might see inmates from the penitentiary coming back and serving their sentence in county jails,” he said. “That’s county money now being expended. Your one county now bears the cost and that is a big burden on local taxpayers.”
The state and the Department of Justice are set to take this to court, but not for two more years.
Town said this applies to the state’s male prisons. Alabama has one female prison and he said it is a model facility and much more safe and clean than the ones for men.
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