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Justice Department sues Alabama over jail circumstances


December 9, 2020 | 11: 59pm | Updated December 9, 2020 | 11: 59pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday towards Alabama over circumstances within the state prisons, saying the state is failing to guard male inmates from inmate-on-inmate violence and extreme power by the hands of jail workers. 

The lawsuit alleges that circumstances within the jail system — which the Justice Department known as one of the crucial understaffed and violent within the nation — are so poor that they violate the ban on merciless and weird punishment and that state officers are “deliberately indifferent” to the issues. The lawsuit comes after the Justice Department twice launched investigative stories that accused the state of violating prisoner’s rights. 

“The Department of Justice conducted a thorough investigation of Alabama’s prisons for men and determined that Alabama violated and is continuing to violate the Constitution because its prisons are riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence. The violations have led to homicides, rapes, and serious injuries,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, mentioned in an announcement saying the lawsuit. 

Alabama had been in negotiations with the Justice Department because the first 2019 report within the hopes of staving off a lawsuit, however federal officers mentioned the state has “failed or refused to correct” the unconstitutional circumstances. 

The 24-page lawsuit mentioned that circumstances in Alabama prisons have gotten worse because the preliminary findings — with homicides growing and prisons changing into much more overcrowded than in 2016 when the investigation was initiated. 

“The State of Alabama is deliberately indifferent to the serious and systematic constitutional problems present in Alabama’s prisons for men,” the lawsuit states.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey mentioned she was dissatisfied by the Justice Department’s motion. 

“This is disappointing news, as the state has actively been negotiating in good faith with the Department of Justice following the release of its findings letters. Out of respect for the legal process, we unfortunately cannot provide additional comment at this time,” Ivey mentioned in an announcement. 

Ivey mentioned she’s going to proceed to pursue plans to lease three mega-prisons that will be privately constructed, every able to housing 1000’s of inmates. The governor mentioned these plans “will go a long way in addressing the long-standing challenges faced by the Alabama Department of Corrections.”

The Justice Department’s 2019 report described a tradition of violence throughout the state prisons for males with frequent rapes, beatings and deadly stabbings by the hands of fellow prisoners and a administration system that undercounts homicides and fails to guard prisoners even when warned. 

A sign that reads,
An indication that reads, “HELP,” is posted within the window of an inmate cell throughout a tour together with state officers at Holman Correctional Facility

The July report on extreme power famous that a minimum of two inmates died on the finish of 2019 after use of power by officers. It listed a litany of different incidents together with a jail guard beating a handcuffed prisoner in a medical unit whereas shouting, “I am the reaper of death, now say my name!” because the prisoner begged the officer to kill him. 

The submitting of the lawsuit was welcomed by advocacy teams, inmates and relations.

Sandy Ray final 12 months confirmed lawmakers a photograph of the battered face of her son Steven Davis as he lay in a hospital mattress. Davis died in October 2019 after an altercation with corrections officers at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility. The Justice Department July report, in an obvious reference to the fatality, mentioned that officers “continued to strike the prisoner after he dropped any weapons and posed no threat.” 

Ray mentioned Wednesday that she hopes the lawsuit “will help in bringing justice for Stevie.” 

One inmate, talking with The Associated Press by jail wall cellphone, was jubilant over phrase of the swimsuit.

“I’m ecstatic,” mentioned Kenneth Traywick, an Alabama prisoner who has labored for years as a jail reform advocate. 

Traywick, who usually operates below pen title Swift Justice, based a corporation known as Unheard Voices OTCJ and works with a gaggle known as the Free Alabama Movement to explain circumstances behind bars. Calling from a wall cellphone inside Kilby jail, Traywick informed The Associated Press that the lawsuit was a “long time coming.” 

Other teams mentioned they hope the lawsuit will power Alabama to make overdue adjustments. 

“It has been past time for reform, and it is shameful that our state leaders are once again being forced through litigation to do the right thing for the people of Alabama,” JaTaune Bosby, government director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, mentioned in an announcement. 

Carla Crowder, government director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, mentioned she hopes that “our lawmakers will finally take this seriously and enact significant criminal justice reform.”