Complaints of physical, sexual abuse filed against 3 Ala. prisons

Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Beatings, sexual abuse and more: these are the complaints being lodged against corrections officers in three Alabama prisons.

An advocacy group says it's happening in Jefferson county at Donaldson prison and at prisons in Bibb and Elmore counties.

Last year, FOX6 News learned of the accusations of sexual abuse coming from inmates at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. These new allegations of sexual and physical violence are among the male inmate population.

The Equal Justice Initative (EJI) has looked into this matter and its executive director says he was outraged by what they learned. They are now calling on the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) to make changes or face litigation.

"They have to be punished but that does not mean we should treat them cruelly or inhumanely or illegally," EJI Executive Director Bryan Stevenson said.

He says at the start of 2013 his organization got close to 25 complaints from prisoners in Elmore County, including claims of physical abuse from the corrections officers.

"Inmates being stripped naked, handcuffed and beaten. Some of the men reported losing hearing, eyesight, chronic injuries, broken bones," Stevenson said.

After learning of those complaints, the EJI began looking at all of Alabama's prisons and found more problems at Donaldson and Bibb Correctional Facility, this time of a sexual nature.

"We had two instances where men had been forced to commit sexual acts and had retained biological evidence that we turned over to state investigators," Stevenson said.

In May, the EJI met with ADOC officials and asked them to address the problem and to change leadership and prosecute wrogndoers if necessary.

"We have to stop tolerating these behaviors and we've got to create a culture that does not allow an officer to feel it's appropriate to engage in abuse, sexual or physical assault," Stevenson said.

Today, ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas responded to the claims.

"We're going to do everything to get the message to these people…if you violate the policy, if you violate your training, you're going to be held accountable," Thomas said.

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