Southern Poverty Law Center

segregation cell
SPLC

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — After 15 inmate suicides in 15 months, a federal judge ruled Saturday that Alabama is putting prisoners in danger by failing to provide adequate suicide-prevention measures.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote that there are "severe and systemic inadequacies" in the Alabama Department of Corrections' care of inmates and the facts behind recent suicides show that unconstitutional conditions persist in state prisons.

segregation cell
SPLC

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Violence, inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have all pointed out plenty of problems.

The Alabama Public Radio news team spent several months in a national award-winning effort examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama representatives on Tuesday approved a budget that provides money for 500 additional corrections officers as the state seeks to stave off a lawsuit from the Department of Justice over prison violence.

The House of Representatives voted 103-0 for a general fund budget that includes funding for more officers as well as money to boost officer pay. The spending plan now moves to the Alabama Senate.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Southern Poverty Law Center has named a new interim leader who says the watchdog organization is looking "to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace."

The organization announced Tuesday that Karen Baynes-Dunning will serve as interim president. Baynes-Dunning, a former judge, served on the SPLC board since 2017.

The move follows upheaval at the organization best known for monitoring extremist groups.

Group Works to Reach Formerly Disenfranchised Voters

Mar 28, 2019

Some Alabamians have the right to vote once again. Many of them just don’t know it. 

Alabama’s state law left it to the counties to decide which felonies caused someone to lose their voting rights.

The state clarified the specific felonies in 2017.

The Alabama Voting Rights Project estimates 10 thousand to 100 thousand Alabamians now qualify to vote.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating the apparent suicide of one inmate and the stabbing death of another.

The deaths occurred days apart at separate prisons, but both come after advocacy groups raised concern about the suicide and homicide rates in state prisons.

A new federal lawsuit is challenging Alabama's practice of suspending the driver's licenses of people who are unable to pay their traffic tickets.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Montgomery says the practice violates the Fourteenth Amendment by "punishing persons simply because they are poor."

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of three Alabama residents who had their licenses suspended. According to the lawsuit, nearly 23,000 Alabamians currently have suspended licenses because of their inability to pay traffic tickets.

Those in Montgomery today can hear the personal accounts of people who have dedicated their lives to social justice.

The event Storytellers: How I Became Justice Involved is being held tonight by the Middle District of Alabama Federal Defenders Program. It’s scheduled on the birthday of Robin “Rocky” Myers, a death row inmate in Alabama who many believe was wrongly convicted. Advocates are hoping to raise awareness of Myers’s case while also sharing their own work on social justice issues.

With less than three weeks until primary elections in Alabama, civil asset forfeiture is back in the headlines.

Earlier this month, incumbent Attorney General Steve Marshall called the process a “vital tool for law enforcement” that “needs to continue” while speaking at a candidate forum. His GOP opponents vying for the Attorney General nomination all say that reforms need to be made.

The Alabama Senate has approved a state general fund budget that gives additional money to the state prison system.

That’s part of an effort to comply with a court order to overhaul the health and mental health care provided to inmates. Last summer, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the prison mental health system was “horrendously inadequate” and that changes had to be made.

A federal judge presiding in a lawsuit involving mental health treatment in Alabama prisons is giving officials until Friday to move mentally ill inmates who've been held too long in single-person cells. 

 

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued the order Thursday following a hearing where inmate attorneys argued that mentally ill prisoners are being held too long in solitary.

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.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker will have his own day in court after all.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins recently ruled against dismissing Justice Parker’s contention that certain state restrictions on judges' speech violate their First Amendment rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says it has added Heather Heyer's name to its Wall of Tolerance at the Civil Rights Memorial Center.

 The SPLC said on its website Friday that it had added a tribute to Heyer to its center in Montgomery, Alabama.

leagueofthesouth.com

Some white Southerners are again advocating for what the Confederacy tried and failed to achieve in the 1860s: secession from the Union.

 

So-called Southern nationalists are among the demonstrators who are fighting the removal of Confederate monuments around the South. They say it's time for Southern states to secede again and become independent of the United States.

An Alabama county's judges, sheriff and circuit clerk have been sued for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of people charged with misdemeanors and felonies by jailing them if they can't afford to pay bail.

 The lawsuit notes that those who face the same charges but can afford the bail amounts are freed until trial.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Alabama’s legislature are debating changes to payday loans in the state.

Dueling bills in both the House and the Senate each aim to reform short-term lending in Alabama, but they go about it in different ways.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a plan to build four new, massive prisons in Alabama this afternoon.

The bill would authorize Alabama’s Department of Corrections to build three massive new men’s prisons and a new women’s prison, and would close over a dozen of the state’s existing prison facilities.

It would be financed by an $800 million bond issue that would leave the state paying $50 million a year for thirty years. Supporters including Governor Robert Bentley say the new prisons would save about that much money in operating costs.

Mark Potok
SPLC

The news headlines over the past year have been dominated by tensions. Conflicts over illegal immigration, refugee resettlement, terrorism and community race relations all led to deep divisions nationwide. Those conflicts also became the center of a bitterly contested Presidential election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released its latest list and analysis of extremist and hate groups nationwide, and it appears that climate bred new hate groups.

Mark Potok is a senior fellow with the SPLC. He’s the primary editor of their HateWatch list and wrote an analysis of this year’s results.

The fight over the legality of same-sex marriage in Alabama is finally, officially over. And as the cases wrap up, state taxpayers will be on the hook for the legal fees.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade has ordered that the state of Alabama will pay over $300,000 in legal fees to several organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. They provided representation for litigants challenging Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Tutwiler Prison
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.

An Alabama inmate who complained about poor mental health care in state prisons has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

24-year-old Jamie Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He told jurors in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections he wasn’t asked about his mental health status upon entering prison. Wallace attempted suicide multiple times, and said a prison guard once gave him a razor to use to kill himself.

Testimony is set to begin today in a massive lawsuit alleging inmates in Alabama’s prisons aren’t receiving the minimum level of health care guaranteed by the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is set to begin hearing the non-jury, class-action lawsuit later today. It was originally filed by a group of inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections back in 2014.

Myron Thompson
Lloyd Gallman / Montgomery Advertiser

Mentally ill inmates held in Alabama’s prisons may soon be receiving better care thanks to a federal court.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson awarded class action status to a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners allegedly receiving inadequate medical care from the Alabama Department of Corrections. That means whatever decision is reached will extend not just to the prisoners named in the lawsuit, but all of the nearly 25,000 prisoners currently incarcerated in Alabama Department of Corrections facilities.

Ambrosia Starling
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Roy Moore is no longer serving as the Chief Justice of Alabama.

On September 30, a majority of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary decided to suspend Moore for the remainder of his six-year term as punishment for ethics violations. The charges relate to Moore’s role in the controversy over same-sex marriage in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has been following the Chief Justice’s case. He has this report on reactions to the trial and what may be coming next.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is set to appear in court tomorrow morning. He’s facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the state Supreme Court. The charges date back to the legal controversy and confusion over same-sex marriage in Alabama earlier this year, and Moore’s personal battle against it.

Chief Justice Moore has some history with this court. In 2003, he was removed from office for unrelated judicial ethics violations. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the latest on Chief Justice Moore’s case and what to expect tomorrow.

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore will appear before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary this afternoon.

Moore is facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the head of the Alabama Supreme Court. The charges stem from an order Moore gave the state's probate judges back in January encouraging them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. That was in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Kairos Center

New poverty statistics paint a sobering picture for the state of Alabama.

The nonprofit organization Alabama Possible recently released their 2016 State Poverty Data Sheet. It reveals more than 900 thousand Alabamians currently live in poverty. Though it’s an issue across the state, conditions are especially grim in Alabama’s Black Belt. In Perry County, for example, nearly half the county’s residents live below the poverty line.

Alabama’s Chief Justice could soon be kicked out of office, again, due to his defiance of a federal court order. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more about the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission’s investigation.

The commission is investigating six counts of judicial ethics violations against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The charges stem from an order Moore issued in January instructing all of the state’s probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, defying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The panel filed six counts of judicial ethics violations against Moore and suspended him from office pending an investigation.

The charges stem from an order he issued to all of the state’s probate judges instructing them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order was issued in January, six months after and in direct defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

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