Alabama Department of Corrections

Alabama death row
EJI

The state of Alabama put Robert Melson to death last night for killing three people during a 1994 robbery of a Gadsden fast food restaurant.

Melson was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m. last night, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. It’s the second execution of the year in Alabama.

Alabama death row
EJI

A death row inmate in Alabama is looking to halt his upcoming execution due to the use of a sedative that his lawyers say has “failed to work properly in four states”.

Attorneys for inmate Robert Melson appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week for an emergency stay of his execution. Melson is scheduled to be put to death a week from today for the killings of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1995 robbery.

Bullock Correctional Facility
ADOC

An inmate was recently killed at a state prison in southeast Alabama, according to authorities.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says 41 year old James Edwards Rodgers was attacked by two inmates with makeshift knives yesterday afternoon. The attack occurred at the Bullock Correctional Facility near Union Springs, Alabama. Rodgers died in the infirmary shortly after the attack.

Correctional authorities say 19 year old Paul Johnson and 35 year old Christopher Hand will be charged with murder. A motive for the stabbing is unknown.

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward says his prison construction bill is dead for this year’s legislative session.

Ward made the pronouncement yesterday. He says the bill already had heavy opposition in the House and was wounded further by tensions over redistricting and other issues in the final days of the session. Ward says opposed lawmakers had threatened to filibuster the bill.

A stabbing inside an Alabama state prison has left one inmate dead and a second injured.

Correctional officials say 34-year-old Jamie Marcus Witherspoon was fatally stabbed yesterday morning at the state prison in the Bibb County town of Brent. A second man was injured and is being treated in the prison infirmary.

A prison construction plan is headed to a key vote in committee.    The House Judiciary Committee will vote Tuesday on the proposal to build, or lease, up to four prisons in the state.  

 Senator Cam Ward, the bill's sponsor, said the vote is "do or die" for the legislation as lawmakers head into the final week of the legislative session.

The United States Supreme Court will not reconsider the appeal of an Alabama death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month.

Yesterday, Supreme Court justices refused the rehearing request by Tommy Arthur, who has had seven execution dates postponed so far.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

The lawmaker sponsoring Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction plan says the bill will most likely be scaled down before heading to a committee vote next week.

Republican Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next Tuesday on a smaller version. He says senators are currently working out the bill's specifics.

Bentley was seeking to build four new prisons. Ward says the new proposal will still be substantial.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a plan to build four new, massive prisons in Alabama this afternoon.

The bill would authorize Alabama’s Department of Corrections to build three massive new men’s prisons and a new women’s prison, and would close over a dozen of the state’s existing prison facilities.

It would be financed by an $800 million bond issue that would leave the state paying $50 million a year for thirty years. Supporters including Governor Robert Bentley say the new prisons would save about that much money in operating costs.

Yet another inmate has been killed at a state prison near Montgomery.

An Alabama Department of Corrections statement says 36-year-old DeMarko Quinta Carlisle was stabbed to death during an altercation at Elmore Correctional Facility yesterday. The agency has a suspect, but officials aren't releasing that prisoner's name. They say the motive isn't known.

prison overcrowding
Equal Justice Initiative

Prison officials in Alabama are investing the beating death of an inmate who was attacked by other prisoners late last week — the second deadly attack on a state prisoner within a 24 hour span.

In the most recent case, the Alabama Department of Corrections says 41-year-old David Sanders was found badly beaten and unresponsive in a dorm of the Elmore Correctional Facility on Thursday.

Sanders was flown to a Montgomery hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday.

Authorities say four inmates are suspected in the death.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn told lawmakers the "risk" in Alabama's crowding prisons is growing each day.

Dunn addressed the legislative judiciary committees Wednesday as the Bentley administration tries to build support for an $800 million prison construction bond issue.

Tutwiler Prison
Dave Martin / AP

The Alabama Department of Corrections has agreed to put new suicide prevention measures in place after an inmate killed himself days after testifying on alleged inadequate mental health care in state prisons.

Conditions in Alabama’s state prisons are poor. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating possible constitutional violations, and the Alabama Department of Corrections is on trial for allegedly not providing adequate health care to inmates. It’s bad enough that the state is having trouble keeping correctional officers employed.

The number of correctional officers assigned to Alabama’s state prisons fell twenty percent this past year, from just over 2000 in September 2015 to 1627 last September, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

An Alabama inmate who complained about poor mental health care in state prisons has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

24-year-old Jamie Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He told jurors in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections he wasn’t asked about his mental health status upon entering prison. Wallace attempted suicide multiple times, and said a prison guard once gave him a razor to use to kill himself.

Dr. Kathryn Burns
Tom Dodge / Columbus Dispatch

The chief psychiatrist for Ohio’s state prison system says Alabama fails to spot mental illness in many of its inmates and lacks the mental health staff to effectively treat those who are diagnosed.

Al.com reports Dr. Kathryn Burns testified yesterday as an expert witness on behalf of inmates suing Alabama's correctional system.

Burns says the percentage of inmates identified as mentally ill in Alabama — about 14 percent — is about half that seen in other states. She says that suggests many mentally ill prisoners aren’t being counted.

Testimony is set to begin today in a massive lawsuit alleging inmates in Alabama’s prisons aren’t receiving the minimum level of health care guaranteed by the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is set to begin hearing the non-jury, class-action lawsuit later today. It was originally filed by a group of inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections back in 2014.

SPLC

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Violence, inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have all pointed out plenty of problems.

The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.

Dunn says uprisings, death show need for new prisons

Nov 29, 2016

The state prison commissioner says outbreaks of violence, including the stabbing death of a corrections officer last month, illustrate the need for new state prisons

Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn made the remarks Tuesday as he briefed legislators on the governor's $800 million prison construction proposal. Dunn said the situation in state prisons has become urgent.

The proposal calls for the construction of three super-sized prisons for men and one for women. Most existing prisons would close.

Myron Thompson
Lloyd Gallman / Montgomery Advertiser

Mentally ill inmates held in Alabama’s prisons may soon be receiving better care thanks to a federal court.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson awarded class action status to a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners allegedly receiving inadequate medical care from the Alabama Department of Corrections. That means whatever decision is reached will extend not just to the prisoners named in the lawsuit, but all of the nearly 25,000 prisoners currently incarcerated in Alabama Department of Corrections facilities.

Alabama death row
EJI

The state of Alabama is preparing to execute a death row inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement.

Tommy Arthur is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. this evening.

Arthur, now 74, was convicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982 as the man slept inside his Muscle Shoals home. Investigators said Arthur was having an affair with Wicker's wife. She later testified that she promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

Yet another correctional officer has been assaulted at a troubled state prison in south Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says a lieutenant at Holman prison in Atmore was attempting to control an inmate when the man assaulted the officer with a makeshift weapon yesterday.

The officer was treated for a cut above his eye, and 27-year-old inmate Robert Washington has been charged with assault. He is currently serving 20 years for a robbery conviction in Montgomery.

Prison Reform: Alabama's overcrowding problem

Oct 14, 2016

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Inmate riots, as well as allegations of mismanagement and corruption have pointed out plenty of problems. The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out. Today, APR’s MacKenzie Bates hears from critics of Alabama’s prisons are run and how plans to fix things may just throw money at the problem…

Department of Justice
Wikimedia

The U.S. Department of Justice is opening an investigation into the conditions at Alabama’s state prisons.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley released a statement yesterday sharing the Justice Department’s letter, and saying he welcomes a federal investigation into the state’s prisons. Bentley says both he and the DoJ share a common goal of wanting to improve the safety of officers and inmates in Alabama’s prisons. He also says past meetings with DoJ officials resulted in major improvements at the state’s Tutwiler Prison for Women.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

At a state prison in south Alabama plagued by violence, some correctional officers are choosing not to show up for work.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says six corrections officers called in sick for the third shift Sunday at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. Nine officers failed to show up for the same shift last week. Three of those correctional officers have since resigned.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Initiative

Five inmates were hospitalized last night after a fight broke out in a prison dormitory near Birmingham.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says the disturbance began around 6 p.m. last night at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama. Horton says several inmates were involved in a fight in a prison dorm. Five of those inmates had to be removed from the prison and taken to a hospital for treatment. The prison is currently on lockdown and the incident is under investigation. Horton says it isn’t yet known if any weapons were used in the fight.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

State Department of Corrections officials say an Alabama correctional officer was stabbed by an inmate yesterday at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

The agency says inmate Cleveland Cunningham was detained after the stabbing occurred just after noon yesterday in the facility's dining hall. The officer was airlifted to an off-site hospital and is currently in critical condition.

Prison officials say Cunningham assaulted the officer in retaliation for being denied extra food. The prison was placed on lockdown after the incident.

16th Street Baptist Church bombing
AP

Thomas Blanton was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the 1963 16th Street church bombing that killed four girls and injured another. He is eligible for parole today. APR student reporter Katie Willem has more.

At the age of 78, Blanton will have his first parole hearing after fifteen years in prison. While the attack happened in 1963, Blanton was not arrested until 2001. He was convicted for four counts of murder after the case was reopened.

Holman Correctional Facility
Sharon Steinmann / AP

Alabama Department of Corrections officials say a state prison was placed on lockdown yesterday after inmates set a fire inside a dorm.

A statement from the department says officers at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala. responded to a fight between inmates yesterday afternoon around 3 p.m. Other inmates then reportedly "became aggressive" toward the guards responding to the fight. The statement says officers secured the door of the dorm, and some inmates inside started a fire.

The federal government is looking to dismiss Alabama's lawsuit over refugee placement after a similar lawsuit failed in Texas.

A lawyer for the federal government filed a notice of the Texas decision with the court last month in the ongoing request to dismiss the Alabama case. Both Texas and Alabama sued the federal government in an attempt to prevent refugees from being resettled in the states.

Last month, a federal judge threw out the Texas lawsuit, ruling that the state had no authority over resettlements, which are handled entirely by the federal government.

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