Alabama Department of Corrections

Elmore County Courthouse
courthouselover / Flickr

A probate judge in Alabama is asking the state's Supreme Court for a way out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen filed a petition earlier this week saying the federal government should issue same-sex marriage licenses, not state or county offices. Enslen says the federal government is responsible for upholding and enforcing other laws created at the federal level.

A Selma-based auto supplier is continuing its lawsuit against a former employee they fired, after a Montgomery County judge ruled whistleblower protections don’t apply.

Birmingham's City Council president is defending the group’s recent decision to raise their salary from $15,000 to $55,000.

Some council members have said they have been asked to do full-time work on part-time pay.

Local media reports the nine-member council voted 8-1 to approve the raise last week and faced questions Tuesday night on the way the increase was handled. The vote was added last minute to a meeting agenda as an addendum and was passed with virtually no time for public comment.

An inmate at Staton Correctional Facility has tested positive for tuberculosis.

Prison medical staff say the inmate has been quarantined and is being treated in an infirmary.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton says the state Department of Public Health is testing all inmates at Staton for tuberculosis, but he says as of now there have been no other cases reported.

Alabama’s state prisons were built to hold 13,000 inmates. They currently house over 25,000.

That makes Alabama prisons among the most crowded in the nation, and state politicians fear the crowding may soon bring federal intervention to the troubled prison system.

In an effort to relieve some of the overcrowding, lawmakers approved changes to sentencing and probation standards this spring as well as a bond issue for additional prison beds. The changes include the creation of a lower level felony class and the planned hiring of 100 additional probation officers.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Institute

Alabama's new prison chief says nearly all of the challenges the Alabama Department of Corrections currently face are a result of overcrowding.

Retired Air Force Colonel Jefferson Dunn has been the Corrections Commissioner for less than two months, but he says it's clear that the massive overcrowding in Alabama's prison system contributes to prison security risks and staffing issues, as well as turnover in law enforcement.

St. Clair Prison
Equal Justice Institute

15 inmates received medical treatment after a riot at St. Clair Correctional Facility Friday afternoon.

A correctional officer was assaulted during the prison's morning meal Friday. After the attack, the Alabama Department of Corrections' Correctional Emergency Response Team was sent to the prison. All inmates were ordered to return to their cells, but the occupants of one cell block refused.

Committee members throughout the Alabama Legislature have a busy day ahead of them.

The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing this morning on a bill aiming to repeal the Common Core curriculum standards.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee will also consider changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, a state program that provides scholarships to help some families pay for private school.

Alabama became the 37th state to legalize same-sex marriage yesterday.

Couples throughout Alabama have been applying for – and receiving – marriage licenses. But some judges are refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite the threat of steep penalties.

Meredith Bagley and Alexandrea Davenport, both faculty at the University of Alabama, were married in Vermont five years ago, but they wanted to get an Alabama marriage license now that same-sex marriage is legal.

But when they went in to apply at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse yesterday morning?

Washington Post

Alabama prisons are changing the way razors are distributed.

The change comes from an agreement with lawyers for inmates suing the state over medical care.  Attorneys had accused the state of giving razor blades to inmates who were known to be suicidal or mentally ill, leading to repeated suicide attempts.

Rivers A. Langley / Wikimedia Commons

An Alabama Department of Corrections veteran says she's using her position as deputy commissioner of women's services to improve worker education and inmate safety in women's prisons.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the state Department of Corrections appointed Wendy Williams to serve as a deputy commissioner in April. Williams oversees the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, the Montgomery Women's Facility and Birmingham Work Release.

Federal officials have criticized Tutwiler and the state Department of Corrections for reports of sexual harassment and abuse.

Alabama Department of Corrections

Alabama's prison system paid $20.8 million in overtime last year, with 14 percent going to one prison. reports that employees of Donaldson Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Jefferson County, received about $2.9 million in overtime pay. That averages about $8,873 per employee.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kristi Gates says the prison system uses overtime to supplement chronic staffing shortages. Gates says Donaldson prison has 8.4 inmates for every one officer. The overtime pay reduces the ratio to 6.9.

Office of the Governor of Alabama

The Alabama Department of Corrections says it is working with a consulting group to make changes at Alabama's prison for women, including providing more privacy in the bathrooms.

Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas said Friday three months of working with the Moss Group is having a positive impact on Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka. Shower curtains, toilet partitions and privacy curtains have been installed in part of the prison and the full installation should be complete by Oct. 1.

Office of the Governor of Alabama

Alabama Department of Corrections officials are refuting a report by a human rights organization that criticizes health care in state prisons.

Department Commissioner Kim Thomas said in a statement Wednesday the state is proud of the health care it offers inmates and that care provided in state institutions is better than what's available to most uninsured Alabamians.

A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center said the state fails to give inmates a humane level of medical care and disabled prisoners face discrimination.


Alabama Department of Corrections officials say inmates who are protesting at state facilities have also been using contraband cellphones to post interviews about prison conditions on the Internet.

Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett told that inmates involved in the videos could face disciplinary action.

Inmates have been protesting about facility conditions, overcrowding, parole policies, not being paid for prison jobs and more.

Prisoners in state facilities are not allowed to have cellphones.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled the state prison system can charge work release inmates for providing transportation to their jobs and other associated costs.

A group of inmates had challenged the Department of Corrections over charging $5 for a round trip to work and other items, including laundry of their work clothes. The inmates said state law limited the department to withholding 40 percent of their earnings, and the department was already doing that before adding the extra charges.

AP Photo/Jamie Martin

A federal judge has approved a settlement to end the segregation of HIV-positive inmates in Alabama prisons.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an opinion Monday saying the agreement isn't perfect but can take effect.

Female inmates already are living with other prisoners at the state's lone women's prison, and male inmates will be integrated into the general prison population next year.

Family members of convicted murderer Andrew Lackey visited with him briefly at Holman Prison in Atmore Tuesday, two days before his scheduled execution Thursday.

Prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said the 30-year-old Lackey was moved at 4 p.m. Tuesday into a holding cell near the death chamber at Holman, where a lethal injection is scheduled to be administered at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Corbett said Lackey's mother, father, aunt and brother visited for about an hour and a half Tuesday.

Lackey would be the first person executed in Alabama in almost two years.

Alabama's prison system is getting dozens of new officers, but officials say it's still badly understaffed.

The Department of Corrections is holding a graduation ceremony in Selma on Thursday for 70 new correctional officers. It's the first of three corrections classes planned for this year at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center.

But department spokesman Brian Corbett says the agency loses more than 20 officers a month through attrition, so the new officers only make up for three months of normal turnover.

(Information in the following story is from: Montgomery Advertiser,

Alabama's prison system has changed a policy that required placing inmates who make a complaint into segregation while the issue is being investigated.

It's up to a federal judge in Montgomery to decide if the Alabama Department of Corrections can continue to isolate inmates who have tested positive for HIV even though the virus is no longer considered a death sentence.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson heard arguments made during the month-long trial challenging Alabama's decades-old policy of mostly separating HIV-positive inmates from other prisoners.

Authorities say the Alabama Department of Corrections has agreed to a new health care contract for inmates with a Missouri-based company.

The contract is with Corizon Inc., formerly known as Correctional Medical Services.

Officials say the state will pay $224.7 million to Corizon over the next three years.

Sen. Arthur Orr's staff released a statement Thursday saying the contract would save $23.8 million over the next three years. Alabama lawmakers had sought significant reductions in the cost of health care costs for the state's 25,000 inmates.

The 257 Alabama prison inmates transferred out of a state facility in Mobile County as Hurricane Isaac was approaching the coast have been returned to Mobile.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas ordered the inmates returned Thursday to Mobile Community Based Facility as the remnants of Isaac had mostly left Alabama.

Thomas on Monday ordered the inmates temporarily transferred to Easterling Correctional Facility in Barbour County and to Bullock Correctional Facility in Bullock County. Thomas said the inmates were returned to Mobile Thursday without incident.