Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

Alabama's prison system is facing a hearing on how it provides mental health services to inmates.

Al.com reports U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has ordered a hearing in Montgomery later today on why the Alabama Department of Corrections should not be held in contempt of court for failing to meet deadlines for increasing mental health staffing.

Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama prisons was "horrendously inadequate" and violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Alex AuBuchon / APR

The four girls killed in a church bombing in Birmingham in 1963 were remembered over the weekend during a memorial service on the attack’s 55th anniversary.

Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson were all killed September 15, 1963 when a bomb placed by Ku Klux Klan members ripped through Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Saturday’s service also honored two boys, Johnny Robinson, Jr. and Virgil Ware, killed in separate incidents shortly after the bombing.

The federal government has until mid-November to respond to the state of Alabama's lawsuit seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from U.S. Census counts.

Last week, a federal judge gave the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau an extension until Nov. 13 to reply to the lawsuit. Lawyers had said the Department of Justice components needed additional time to finish "evaluating the arguments that the government will make in this matter."

Study Questions if Alabama Scholarship Program Shows Gains

Sep 12, 2018

Private school scholarship recipients are not showing signs of improvement on standardized test scores. APR Student Reporter Jessica Rendall has more.

The results come from a study by the Institute for Social Science Research. They examined academic outcomes of 2,000 students attending private schools on a taxpayer-backed scholarship and discovered no improvement.

The program is intended to help students escape low-performing public schools, but the report discovered test scores were not improving and were in fact similar to their public school counterparts.

An inmate was fatally stabbed at a state prison in Springville, Alabama last weekend.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says the stabbing happened Sunday evening at St. Clair Correctional Facility.

Prison staff found 29-year-old Terry Terrell Pettiway unresponsive and suffering from a stab wound at around 6:45 p.m. Sunday evening. Pettiway was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Alabama’s capital city is currently dealing with a shortage of school bus drivers.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the Montgomery Public Schools are working toward solutions for the lack of drivers at the start of this school year. A school official says the district is seeking more drivers, but they aren't receiving any applications despite efforts to advertise openings.

Of Montgomery Public Schools's 159 routes, 151 have a driver with no subs. The problem becomes even worse when drivers call out.

University Hospital
USA Health

The University of South Alabama in Mobile is changing the name of its hospital.

Late last week, university trustees approved changing the name of USA Medical Center to University Hospital.

A statement from the university's medical dean, Dr. John Marymount, says the new name reflects the school's mission to provide medical education and health care stemming from research.

The hospital is the only one in southwestern Alabama that offers the top-level of trauma care.

Jefferson County is making plans to put an armed resource officer in every school in the county as part of a new school safety plan.

Local officials announced the plan as part of a press conference yesterday. Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says there are currently 25 officers for the 56 schools in the county school system. He says they plan to hire enough contract deputies to cover all 56 county schools.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is reporting a string of large campaign contributions as she looks to reclaim fundraising dominance in the gubernatorial race.

Campaign finance reports show the incumbent Republican has received $95,000 in large contributions over the last three weeks.

Ivey received $25,000 each from the Alabama Builders Political Action Committee, the Trucking Association PAC and Georgia Crown Distributing Inc.

She also received $20,000 from another political action committee.

Ivey faces Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in the November election.

Airbnb is set to start collecting local lodging tax in Alabama’s largest city within the next month.

Al.com reports the Birmingham City Council approved an agreement yesterday allowing the short-term rental website to collect the city's 6.5 percent tax on rentals. Airbnb already collects a 4 percent state lodging tax for all Alabama rentals, including Birmingham.

Assistant City Attorney Julie Barnard says the tax will be collected automatically when a room is booked within city limits. Airbnb then will send the collected tax revenue to the city.

Hubbard trial
Todd J. Van Ernst

An appellate court has upheld most of the convictions against former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Yesterday, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed 11 of the 12 counts against Hubbard for ethics violations, including using his public office to drum up clients and investments for his businesses.

For years, Hubbard was one of the state's most influential Republicans, but his political career came to an end with his 2016 ethics conviction.

Birmingham's public transportation agency is getting federal money to help it go electric.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority will receive $1.5 million through a grant program.

The federal agency says the money is supposed to be used for purchasing battery-run electric buses and charging stations.

The Birmingham grant money is among more than $84 million that's being provided in 41 states to update buses and other transportation infrastructure with advanced propulsion technologies.

An Alabama doctor has been sentenced to more than twelve years in prison for his role in a Montgomery pill mill.

U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin Sr. told Al.com that 56-year-old Gilberto Sanchez was found guilty last week of prescribing unnecessary controlled substances for his patients. He was also found guilty of committing health care fraud and laundering money.

CHS library
Lowndes Co. BoE

There’s a new school superintendent in Lowndes County, Alabama.

The Lowndes County Board of Education announced yesterday that Jason Burroughs has signed a three-year contract with the school system – that according to WSFA-TV.

Burroughs was previously serving as the interim superintendent and was the former assistant superintendent. He also has served in various other positions during his 23 years with the school district.

Union members in south Alabama are heading back to work after suspending their strike against a soft drink bottler.

Employees of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United in Mobile, Robertsdale and Leroy, as well as in Vancleave, Mississippi, went back to work Monday, suspending a walkout that began Aug. 9.

About 275 employees at the locations are represented by the Teamsters Union. Last year, the locastions were transferred from a North Carolina-based bottler to the Birmingham-based Coca-Cola United.

Auburn GLA
Frank Susko / Invisible Histories Project

A new project is documenting the history of LGBTQ people in the Deep South, a region that once all but forced gays, lesbians and others to live in hiding.

The nonprofit Invisible Histories Project has gathered volumes of information about gay life in Alabama, including decades-old directories of gay-friendly businesses; activist T-shirts; records from gay-rights groups; and rainbow-themed material.

The organization is also expanding into Mississippi and Georgia this year, and organizers hope to cover the entire Southeast within a few years.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says the state comptroller has updated an agreement with county sheriffs to end a practice allowing them to pocket state money left over from inmate food programs.

Al.com reports starting next month, the affidavit that county sheriffs must sign will contain new language clarifying the use of jail food funds.

It states the sheriffs must agree funds will only be spent on "preparing food, serving food and other services incident to the feeding of prisoners." The old version didn't specify use of funds.

One of Alabama's largest publicly held companies, the Birmingham-based Energen Corp., is being bought out by Texas-based Diamondback Energy Inc. in a stock deal worth more than $9 billion.

The companies announced the transaction in a statement released Tuesday. They say the deal will create a company that will operate in the Permian Basin, which produces oil and natural gas located in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

The combined company will produce the equivalent of about 222,000 barrels of oil daily and own more than 266,000 acres in the region.

A city in north Alabama has approved the use of taxpayer money to pay legal expenses for a police officer charged in the death of an armed man police say was suicidal.

Al.com reports the Huntsville City Council voted unanimously late last week to cover the defense of 25-year-old Huntsville Police Officer William Darby.

Darby was indicted earlier this month on a murder charge in the shooting of 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker.

The Alabama Supreme Court has stayed the trial of a Montgomery police officer facing murder charges.

Aaron Cody Smith was scheduled to go to trial Monday on murder charges for the 2016 shooting of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. Yesterday, state Supreme Court justices stayed the trial to consider his appeal on a number of issues.

Smith's attorneys argue he should be immune from prosecution because he was acting in self-defense.

They also argue the trial judge tainted the jury pool with comments about the case.

Tabitha Isner, the Democratic candidate in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, says Russian hackers made more than a thousand attempts to break into her campaign website last month.

Isner says there were 1,400 attempts to break into the website. Most came from accounts with Russian internet service providers.

Isner says she has no idea why her campaign was targeted. She says the hackers were attempting to log in manually to the site.

A university in Alabama is grappling with a housing shortage after a tornado is and is buying mobile homes to provide living space for students.

WBMA-TV reports Jacksonville State University plans to use 22 mobile homes to house students this fall.

Many houses and apartments were destroyed or heavily damaged when a tornado struck on March 19, creating a housing crunch in the city.

Alabama is accepting comments on its proposal to put a work requirement on 74,000 Medicaid recipients.  

The Alabama Medicaid Agency opened a new public comment period on the proposal.

The proposal would require 35 hours of work, job training, education or volunteer service each week. Exceptions would be made for people with young or disabled children

The Alabama Department of Public Health has identified an outbreak of whooping cough in Shelby and Jefferson counties.  

Health officials said Friday that nine children testified positive for pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Another 22 people have developed symptoms.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It begins with a runny nose and low grade fever but develops into a violent cough.

Health officials identified a number of churches and camps where the infected people attended in June and July.

Airports across the state of Alabama will be improving their infrastructure soon, thanks to more than $25 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby says the grants will help 25 airports with improvements, new structures and safety advances. The Mobile Downtown Airport will receive the most with $7.08 million, while the Thomas C. Russell Field Airport in Alexander City will get the least with $94,500.

The grants are funded through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and federal appropriations.

For the 27th time this year, a loaded gun has been found in a carry-on bag at the Birmingham airport.

Al.com reports Transportation Security Administration officers found the handgun Tuesday morning at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. TSA officers confiscated the gun and alerted airport police, who then escorted the passenger out of the checkpoint area.

A judge is refusing to grant immunity to a white Alabama police officer who claims he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot an unarmed black man in 2016.

WSFA-TV reports Montgomery Judge Greg Griffin made that decision after a hearing yesterday in which Montgomery police officer Aaron Cody Smith described the shooting. Smith will go on trial next month on murder charges for the death of 58-year-old Greg Gunn.

The shooting happened after Smith stopped Gunn as Gunn was walking home through his neighborhood late one night in February 2016.

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit that accuses the Alabama Legislature of racially discriminating against the city of Birmingham by preventing the majority-black city from setting its own minimum wage within the city limits.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit. The court says "plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham's black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race."

Yet another state lawmaker has been indicted in connection to an alleged bribery scheme to pressure insurance companies into covering treatments at a chain of diabetes clinics.

Federal court documents show Republican Rep. Randy Davis of Daphne was indicted earlier this week on conspiracy to commit bribery and other charges.

Loxley work center
ADOC

A county sheriff in south Alabama is urging the state of Alabama to close a prison facility where three inmates escaped in a span of 24 hours.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack tells WPMI-TV that prisoners are just walking away from the work release center at Loxley.

Three inmates have left the state's minimum-security community work release center this week. Two are back in custody, and a third is still at large as of Wednesday morning.

Police say looking for the escaped prisoners puts a strain on local law enforcement.

Pages