AL Prisons Back In Court Over Mental Health

Nov 29, 2017

Inmates in a dormitory at Donaldson Correctional Facility near Bessemer, Ala.

Alabama’s prison system is on trial once again starting today.

The next phase of hearings regarding health and mental health care for Alabama state inmates begins today in Montgomery. Back in June, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled the system was “horrendously inadequate” and had to change. These hearings are all about how Alabama’s Department of Corrections plans to make those changes.

Maria Morris is an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center and lead counsel on the case. She says by far the biggest problem is understaffing, and the ADOC has a long way to go just to fill the positions they’ve already authorized to be filled.

“They need over 2000 people to fill those positions. They currently have around 1100 officers, and they need to have over 3,000. And then once the staffing analysis is done, it will probably be clear that they need even more than that.”

Corrections officials have argued in the past that the department doesn’t receive enough state funding to hire that many staff members. ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn is expected to testify later this week.