Non-Profit Group Says Officer-On-Inmate Abuse Happening at 3 Alabama Prisons

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By Jessica Gertler

A non-profit group is filing a complaint against the Alabama state prison system saying correctional officers at three prisons including the Elmore Correctional Facility are physically and sexually abusing inmates.

The Equal Justice Initiative launched an investigation earlier this year. Their findings show that in the last six months, nine inmates at Elmore Correctional Facility have been severely beaten by correctional officers, and at two other prisons, officers sexually abused inmates.

"The kinds of reports that we are getting suggest that this is gratuitous violence. It is sadistic, abusive and illegal," says Bryan Stevenson. 

Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. 

Stevenson says EJI has investigated dozens of recent incidents at Elmore Correctional Facility, and two months ago, handed those findings over to the state.

"To date, nothing has happened, and we are very concerned about it," he says.

Department of Justice Commissioner Kim Thomas says the Attorney General's office is investigating only one incident reported by EJI that says an Elmore Correctional Facility inmate was beaten, taken to the hospital, and when he returned, the Warden paraded him around the facility. 

"I am running a clear and transparent agency. I am not afraid of asking for an outside law enforcement agency, even the top law enforcement agency in the state of Alabama, to come in and conduct an investigation," says Thomas.

Calude Hogan's brother is serving life in the Elmore Correctional Facility. He says he has heard of abuse happening inside the prison walls.

"Well I have heard people talk about it, but I was never given facts," he says. "[My brother] really can take care of himself. I'm concerned about my other friends. I have a lot of friends up there. I know a lot of people up there."

Stevenson says if the state does not step in, he will ask other agencies to take action. 

"There is nothing that would justify taking an inmate out of the dorms, stripping him naked, putting him in handcuffs and beating him to the point where has to be taken to a hospital for severe medical injuries," he says.

EJI also reports that several officers involved in beatings at Elmore were reportedly the subject of an earlier investigation at Tutwiler Prison for Women where officers were allegedly sexually abusing inmates. Thomas denies those allegations. 

EJI has met with the U.S. Department of Justice. No word yet if the federal government will launch a separate investigation. 

 

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