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Alabama Prisons Ongoing Struggle, Over 2,000 Prison Assaults Documented

02 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

The Alabama Department of Corrections unveils a distressing reality as prison assaults in Alabama prisons surge by more than 41% in 2023.

Alabama Prisons Ongoing Struggle, Over 2,000 Prison Assaults Documented - Inmate Lookup

A recent report from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) indicates a surge of over 41 percent in state prison assaults in 2023 compared to the previous year, underscoring the ongoing challenge of managing Alabama’s prison population, which exceeds twenty-five thousand individuals.

As per ADOC’s monthly statistical report, as of the conclusion of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, there were 2,073 recorded inmate assaults across Alabama’s correctional facilities, with 179 occurring in September. This signifies a more than 9 percent increase from August and a substantial 41 percent rise compared to the fiscal year progress figures for 2022.

1,578 of the 2,073 assaults were reported to have occurred between inmates, and 495 of the assaults were reported to have occurred between inmates and prison staff. Not only were there 137 assaults among convicts in September but there were also 42 assaults committed by inmates against prison staff.

Alabama has grappled with managing its expanding prison population for years, with existing facilities in a state of disrepair. The state faces a federal lawsuit over alleged poor prison conditions, characterized by the U.S. Justice Department as being “riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence.” ADOC’s monthly reports do not include statistics for guard-on-prisoner violence.

In an attempt to address the situation, state lawmakers allocated $400 million in federal pandemic relief funds in 2022 for the construction of two new prisons; however, the costs have since surged dramatically, with one prison now exceeding $1 billion and the cost of the second prison remaining undisclosed.

ADOC Commissioner John Hamm clarified that the new prisons, with a combined 8,000 beds, would not increase the state’s inmate capacity, as six existing prisons would close following their construction.

Alabama’s escalating prison population, around 7,000 over design capacity as of September, has complex causes, with Rep. Chris England pointing to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles as a significant factor. England highlighted concerns with the Alabama Daily News about the board’s consistent neglect of parole release guidelines.

Despite parole guidelines suggesting an 80 percent grant rate for August, the board only granted parole to 5 percent of applicants. Discrepancies between recommended and actual parole rates have heightened since 2019, coinciding with stricter parole release requirements implemented as part of reforms to the Pardons and Parole Bureau.

Attorney General Steve Marshall, Rep. Matt Simpson, and other state leaders have argued that the majority of those incarcerated, around 83 percent, are violent offenders and therefore ineligible for parole. However, doubts have been raised about the accuracy of this figure, as the Alabama Department of Corrections reports a lower percentage of incarcerated individuals (67.5 percent) classified as violent offenders.