Alabama Faces Crisis with Record 325 Inmate Deaths in Prisons

According to data obtained by Alabama Appleseed, the number of deaths reported by the Alabama Department of Corrections in 2023 was at least 325, the highest recorded statistic.

“In the weeks after we started tracking prison deaths starting January 1 of last year, we quickly realized we’d very likely see another record year of deaths, and we were correct,” Eddie Burkhalter, a researcher with Alabama Appleseed, said.

According to Burkhalter’s research, the number of prison deaths in Alabama has increased significantly since 2019. This was revealed after a Department of Justice inquiry, which determined that the state’s jails were illegal.

As a result, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Alabama in 2020, and the trial is slated to begin in November 2024. This worrisome trend of over 1,000 deaths in ADOC facilities shows a variety of issues, including rampant violence and drug use, which are frequently linked to correctional staff’s inability to uphold their role of preserving order.

The most publicized fatality was that of 22-year-old Daniel Williams, who was initially thought to have died from an overdose. However, subsequent testing revealed that his body had injuries consistent with numerous types of abuse. Williams, a young father, was serving a one-year term for theft.

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has not released any updates on its inquiry. According to internal documents, the major suspect in the case is an inmate who has been accused of sexual assault several times in other institutions, along with two others. These records also show that the convict in question was never penalized and was free to mingle with others in an open dorm area.

ADOC has encountered issues with minimal personnel, which state officials think has contributed to the harsh conditions in correctional facilities. The construction of new mega-prisons, which will cost billions of dollars, is still some years out.

The current situation is so severe that a presiding judge in Jefferson County compared state jails to those in third-world countries. The number of paroles given by the state parole board has reduced dramatically, contributing to the problem of overcrowding. Critics believe that when inmates lose hope of receiving a second chance, the degree of violence has risen.

In December, many families testified before a legislative oversight committee in Montgomery. They told horrifying stories about family members who were brutally slaughtered and sexually assaulted in prison.

One of the speakers, Kevin Hyatt, told the heartbreaking story of his nephew’s murder over a minor drug debt. Another family friend testified of inmate Adam Bond, who suffered catastrophic brain damage during an attack and was later discovered dead after being sent to the general prison population.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *