Immigrant Inmate Treatment Complaint, New State Broadband Office

Jul 20, 2015

Etowah County Detention Center, Gadsden, Ala.

Civil rights advocates are pursuing a complaint against the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden.

The complaint covers a wide range of conditions-related issues including medical neglect and alleged abuse by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers against foreign detainees.

Christina Mansfield is the co-founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). She says the report alleges how ICE officers have physically assaulted and coerced detainees into signing travel documents that could prompt deportation.

“Part of our mission is to give voice to people who are constrained from their ability to communicate with the outside world, so this is really for us about facilitating that communication for them that proves difficult because of how isolated they are.”

Mansfield says they’re ultimately calling for the contract between ICE officers and the Etowah County Commission to be terminated. The complaint on behalf of the 20 immigrant inmates was filed with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. That office is part of the Department for Homeland Security.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed an executive order to create the Office of Broadband Development in order to increase the accessibility of high-speed Internet across the state.

The governor's office announced the order was signed on Thursday.

Bentley says the new state office will be tasked with making sure broadband infrastructure is in place throughout the state at an affordable price.

Alabama’s Director of Broadband Development Kathy Johnson says high-speed Internet is crucial to the state's economic growth, as well as to public safety and numerous other areas.

As part of the executive order, the governor's office says Bentley will appoint 19 members to an advisory board to work with Johnson and report their progress back to the governor.

The city of Anniston may be the latest community to remove the Confederate battle flag.

The city council is set to vote on whether the flag should be banned from all city owned property.

After a work session last week, some council members felt banning the controversial battle flag would have a positive effect on the city.

Councilman Seyram Selase says banning the Confederate flag shouldn’t be a debate of heritage or hate.

“I think it just shows that we’re a more inclusive and welcoming city. The strategic plan that we recently wrapped up is called ‘One City, One Vision’, so we want to make sure that we’re not attaching ourselves to anything that could cause any type of divisiveness and division with the city of Anniston.”

The city council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Anniston's City Meeting Center.

Three years after passing a new film incentive package, Alabama says it's landing more movies.

In 2012, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a bill expanding the amount of money that companies producing movies, television shows and commercials can recoup on expenses and payroll by filming in the state.

Alabama’s film incentive program began in 2009 was capped at $10 million. It rose to $15 million in 2013, to $20 million in 2014 and then to $25 million this year.

Film office manager Kathy Faulk says the incentives are working and that the millions of dollars in credits are landing bigger and bigger films.

Some tax credit experts say film credits don't actually turn into economic benefits for states.