ADOC, Attorneys Agree on Prison Suicide Prevention Measures

Jan 13, 2017

Inmates at Tutwiler Prison for Women, Wetumpka, Ala.
Credit Dave Martin / AP

The Alabama Department of Corrections has agreed to put new suicide prevention measures in place after an inmate killed himself days after testifying on alleged inadequate mental health care in state prisons.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson approved the temporary agreement between the Alabama Department of Corrections and attorneys representing Alabama inmates yesterday. Prison officials have agreed to keep a licensed mental health professional on staff at each major prison facility in Alabama, and will implement new evaluation, monitoring and follow-up care procedures for inmates deemed to be at risk for suicide.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s senior supervising attorney Maria Morris calls the agreement a step in the right direction, but not a permanent fix. She says ADOC needs to create a meaningful, long-term plan to protect suicidal inmates.

Attorneys for inmates sought the new protections after the suicide of inmate Jamie Wallace. Wallace hanged himself days after testifying in the class-action lawsuit filed by inmates against the state prison system.

ADOC maintains that inmates in Alabama prisons are receiving adequate mental health treatment. Commissioner Jeff Dunn is expected to testify in the mental health trial this afternoon and tomorrow.