Alabama prisons

Alabama asks judge to dismiss federal prison lawsuit

Feb 17, 2021


The state of Alabama is asking for a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department about prison conditions to be dismissed. The suit, filed in December, claims the state is failing to protect prisoners from inmate violence and excessive force from prison staff. 

FBI launches probe after Alabama inmate activist injured

Feb 10, 2021


The FBI is helping to investigate an altercation between officers and inmates that left several hospitalized.

The Alabama Department of Corrections said the incident occurred Jan. 30 at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, and that two officers and two inmates were sent to the hospital as a result. Inmates Robert Council and Ephan Moore were sent for their injuries and the officers suffered stab wounds.


Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a lease for two new mega-prisons with a private prison company.

CoreCivic is one of the largest private prison companies in the country and agreed to build two new prisons. A third is planned for a total cost of $3 billion. The first two will house 7,000 inmates.

Some Alabama lawmakers question Ivey's prison lease plan

Jan 28, 2021


Lawmakers are raising concerns after hearing about Gov. Kay Ivey's plan to lease three new mega-prisons.

Republican Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa said he and other lawmakers want to see more financial details about the proposal since they will be responsible for any shortfall.

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said an announcement about the leases will be released soon.

The mega-prisons would hold 10,000 inmates total and close many existing prisons throughout the state.


Alabama has one of the highest rates of inmate deaths from COVID-19.

Forty-three inmates and two staff members have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Figures compiled by The Associated Press and the Marshall Project rank Alabama prisons fourth in the U.S. for the number of COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 inmates.

Alabama prisons agency says federal suit ignores progress

Dec 11, 2020

The Alabama Department of Corrections has responded to the latest lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department.

The statement said the agency has been working to hire more positions to work in understaffed prisons that the lawsuit said violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment because of their conditions.

The department also said the Gov. Kay Ivey's plan to construct three large new prisons will replace the older buildings.

The state said the government filed the suit without warning despite continued negotiations.

Justice Department sues Alabama over prison conditions

Dec 9, 2020
Department of Justice / Wikimedia Commons

Alabama is once again being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice over its prison conditions.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday. said the state is failing to protect male inmates from violence projects prisoners to excessive force at the hands of prison staff. The suit also alleged that the conditions of state prisons are unconstitutional and violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Justice Department has already released two reports that accuse Alabama of violating prisoners' rights.

Gov. Ivey said the news of the filing was disappointing.

Group opposes new plans for Bibb County prison

Dec 1, 2020

Opposers of a proposed Alabama prison are bringing environmental and economic concerns to the governor's attention. 

The group Block the Brierfield Prison, represented by Birmingham attorney Chris Christie, has sent a letter for Gov. Kay Ivey about how the 3,000-inmate prison will affect the taxpayers of Bibb County.

The letter said the project could hurt local water supply and that other possible environmental impacts need to be studied. Leasing prisons built by private companies was also questioned in the letter. 


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Residents in two Alabama counties say they are opposed to the state's plan to build new prisons in their communities. 

News outlets report that residents in Elmore and Bibb Counties have expressed concern about possible escapes, traffic and a lack of public input on the sites.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A 74-year-old inmate at an Alabama prison has died after contracting COVID-19. He is the 26th inmate to die after contracting the virus. 

The Alabama Department of Corrections said in a news release that Johnny Dwight Terry, a 74-year-old inmate at Limestone Correctional Facility died Thursday.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state inmate has died after being assaulted by another prisoner. 

The Alabama Department of Corrections says 46-year-old Demarcus Fernando Harrison died last week from injuries sustained during an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault. Harrison’s exact cause of death is pending a full autopsy.

COVID-19 coronavirus test


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Corrections said says a 67-year-old inmate has died in custody at a hospital, four months after contracting the coronavirus in a state facility. 

The agency announced Monday that Willie Bernard Collins died at a hospital near Montgomery on Thursday. Collins was housed at the Staton Correctional Facility’s infirmary due to preexisting health conditions.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A panel will consider what to do with Alabama's existing prisons as the state moves forward with plans for three new, privately built lockups. 

Gov. Kay Ivey's office announced Tuesday she's forming a 15-member commission to evaluate the state's prisons. It will make recommendations about whether to renovate them or even use the buildings for something else.


Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Sept. 3 that negotiations are beginning for the construction of a new prison site in Bibb County.

Construction should begin early next year, Ivey announced in a news release.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s governor has announced plans to move ahead with state leasing of three privately built mega prisons that would begin construction next year. 


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it believes Alabama’s prisons for men are unconstitutional because inmates are subjected to excessive force at the hands of prison staff.



Governor Kay Ivey has begun reviewing plans for two new Alabama prisons. This effort is going on while more than 100 prison employees and dozens of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus.



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The state of Alabama told a federal judge that it is optimistic that it can adequately staff state prisons by a 2022 deadline despite slow progress in hiring. 

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had asked the state to explain how it planned to meet the court order to add about 2,000 officers in the next two years. Thompson said the state had only added about 100 officers over the last nine months and had a net loss in supervisors.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s administration is inching forward with a plan to lease three mega-prisons built by private companies. 

The Department of Corrections opened bids from two companies seeking the contracts. Ivey’s office said they are now in a “confidential proposal evaluation period.”



ALICEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A former corrections officer at a federal prison in Alabama has pleaded guilty to charges related to sexual assault of female inmates. 

Federal prosecutors said 39-year-old Adrian L. Stargell pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the rights of two women, whom prosecutors said he sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, and one count of making false statements to federal agents.



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Two Alabama inmates who say they were beaten while handcuffed by a prison guard have sued him and other prison employees for conspiring to conceal to assault. 

Authorities say that in February 2019, inmates Cortney Rolley and Christopher Hampton were beaten by Elmore Correctional Facility Sgt. Ulysses Oliver Jr. Authorities say Oliver faces up to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to assaulting the pair.

Push to release inmates during COVID-19 pandemic

Apr 30, 2020

An APR News Feature --Part of an innovative collaboration between Alabama Public Radio, the commercial newsroom at WVUA23-TV, and the University of Alabama's Center for Public Television.

Concern is growing over if Alabama’s jails and prisons are prepared to battle the coronavirus pandemic. This comes as the first Alabama prisoner died from COVID-19 in recent weeks. Some advocates say changing guidelines for release in Alabama’s detention centers could help slow the spread of COVID-19.  

Jenny Carroll is a professor of law at The University of Alabama.



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama prison system has reported its fourth case of COVID-19 in a state inmate.

The Department of Corrections announced the positive test on Wednesday in a news release.  

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers have adjourned the 2020 legislative session until late April as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state neared 1,000. 

Lawmakers met briefly in Montgomery in order to approve the break until April 28. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said lawmakers will likely pass “bare bones” budgets when they return because of the economic uncertainty.

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Voters in two northeast Alabama counties will decide Tuesday whether their sheriffs can use jail inmate food money for other purposes.

In Etowah and Marshall counties, local constitutional amendments would let the sheriffs use all leftover money on sheriff's office business, up from 25% now.

Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton is pledging to use any leftover money to fund school resource officers at county schools.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Relatives of four inmates who killed themselves inside Alabama prisons are suing the state over the men's suicides.

The lawsuit claims corrections officials didn't provide proper care for the men despite knowing they had severe mental illnesses and would sometimes harm themselves. A lawyer for the families says they want to hold state officials accountable.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Wednesday that a prison spokesperson declined comment on the suit.

An attorney for a white former officer convicted of killing an unarmed black man has filed a motion to keep the ex-officer out of Alabama prisons.

News outlets report the motion asked that former Montgomery officer Aaron Cody Smith serve his 14-year sentence as a split sentence. That would put him behind bars for three years with the rest of the sentence on probation.

Alabama lawmakers say they have questions about Governor Kay Ivey's proposal to lease three megaprisons built by private companies as a partial solution to the state's ongoing prison crisis. 

The governor's administration is pursuing a plan to hire private companies to build the prisons which would then be leased back to the state and run by the Department of Corrections. 

Legislative leaders say they're not objecting to the proposal but want to make sure the leases don't become a drain  on the state's budget.

A state prison crisis and gambling legislation are expected to be top topics when lawmakers return to Montgomery next week.

The Alabama Legislature begins the 2020 legislative session on Tuesday.  

Lawmakers are expected to debate additional funding for state prisons and a package of bills aimed at reducing recidivism and prison crowding.  Lottery legislation is also being introduced this year.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey will give her annual State of the State address Tuesday night to detail her agenda for the year. 

Officials say a state prison in Alabama's troubled corrections system will be largely shut down because of infrastructure problems that were the culmination of years of neglect.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn announced the plan Wednesday. He says 617 inmates at Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore will be sent to other state prisons. Dunn says the decision was made because maintenance crews were struggling daily to maintain sewer and electrical systems housed beneath the main prison building.