Alabama prison staffing levels to be issue on DOJ lawsuit
A federal judge ruled that prison staffing levels will remain an issue in the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Alabama's corrections system. DOJ sued Alabama last year saying male inmates live in unsafe prisons with excessive levels of violence. U.S. District Judge David Proctor refused Alabama's request to dismiss staffing issues from the litigation. But Proctor agreed with state lawyers that some of the Justice Department's allegations were overly broad. He said the Justice Department must file the amended complaint within 45 days.
Governor Kay Ivey and the GOP led legislature recently approved a $1.3 billion dollar prison construction plan that uses $400 million from the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan. Critics of the measure say it doesn’t address corruption in Alabama’s troubled Corrections Department and that putting old problems into new buildings isn’t the answer. Lawmakers may even skip the normal bidding process to speed construction along. The whole idea may encounter opposition from Washington. U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to make sure States don’t misuse COVID relief dollars to build prisons. He mentioned Alabama specifically.
The Alabama Public Radio news team's documentary on prison reform was recognized with a national Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and helped to prompt an earlier DOJ investigation of Alabama's prison system