Federal Judge, Advocacy Groups Demand Change After Prison Suicides

One group is speaking out against Alabama’s prison problems.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says immediate action needs to be taken to help prevent prisoner suicides.

“Unfortunately, those individuals will never come back and their families will suffer forever,” Mitch McGuire says. McGuire represents families of several inmates who committed suicide in Alabama prisons.

In fact, fifteen inmates committed suicide between December 2017 and March 2019.

The SPLC and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program are speaking out on what they say is an Alabama prison crisis.

“It’s really damaging to a human being to be locked in a cell 22 and a half or more hours in a day, and people go into crisis,” SPLC attorney Maria Morris says.

On Saturday, a federal judge ruled that the Alabama Department of Corrections needs to take immediate steps to help the problem.
Those steps include: enforcing the policy for correctional officers to walk-through’s every 30 minutes;
making sure suicide risk assessments of prisoners are properly handled; and to follow up with those who are released from suicide watch.
Morris says the reasoning behind the failures are a lack of officers.

“Because the prisons are so badly understaffed, they have not being doing rounds to check on people, to look into their cells, make sure they’re okay,” Morris says.

McGuire says the deaths could have been stopped had the proper precautions taken place.

“Inmates like Brian Rust, inmates like Paul Ford, who, if they had been provided with adequate care and proper classification, we believe that those deaths could have prevented,” McGuire says.

A federal court set a goal to hire around two thousand more correctional officers by 2022.
The Department of Corrections previously said it wants to hire 500 correctional officers by the end of this year…

We reached out to the ADOC for a statement on Judge Thompson’s ruling, but have not heard back at this time.

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