Alabama prison system

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Time is running out for the Alabama Legislature to work out a general fund budget, but the state Senate is beginning to iron out the details.

State agency heads told members of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday that proposed cuts will close circuit clerk offices, slash Medicaid services and send state prisons into a danger zone of crowding and violence.

Committee Chairman Arthur Orr says there are close to $150 million in revenue-generating bills under discussion that could reduce the cuts if they win legislative approval.

Another Alabama death row inmate is petitioning courts to order his release.

Donnis George Musgrove has been on death row for 27 years since being convicted of capital murder in February 1988. His request for release comes after two other men once on Alabama's death row are now enjoying freedom.

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.

Alabama Department of Corrections

A federal lawsuit claims corruption and poor management are to blame for deaths and violence at St. Clair prison in Springville.

The Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative filed suit Monday seeking changes at the prison, which holds more than 1,200 men and is badly overcrowded.

Corrections officials haven't responded to a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit says six people have been killed at St. Clair in the last 36 months, and stabbings and assaults are commonplace.


Advocacy groups say Alabama prisons are giving inmates virtually unlimited access to razors, a practice that's leading to deaths and injuries inside the lockups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program asked a court Thursday to bar prisons from freely distributing razor blades to male inmates.

The groups are making the request on behalf of prisoners who've tried to kill themselves using the razors. They say razors are being distributed even after an inmate used one to kill himself at Limestone prison in 2011.

Alabama Department of Corrections

State health officials say Alabama's prison system is dealing with its worst outbreak of tuberculosis in five years.

Officials say they've diagnosed nine active cases of the infectious respiratory disease in state prisons this year.

Alabama prisons averaged fewer than five cases annually each year since 2009.

All but one of the cases this year occurred at the St. Clair Correctional Facility. The other occurred at Donaldson prison north of Birmingham.

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.

State Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster will be in Washington on July 15 to speak to a congressional subcommittee about making changes in prisons.

Ward is chairman of Alabama's new Prison Reform Task Force. The House Judiciary Committee's crime subcommittee invited him to speak at a hearing on prison reform, and Ward accepted.


Two advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against the Alabama prison system, claiming the state is failing to provide basic medical and mental health care to inmates.

Attorney Maria Morris of the Southern Poverty Law Center says a lack of adequate medical care is causing inmate suffering and even deaths.

The SPLC and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Center filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Montgomery on behalf of about 40 inmates.

The Governor's Office

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced an attempt to overhaul the state's severely overcrowded prison system.

Bentley said Tuesday the state's prisons are filled to nearly twice their collective capacity. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a partnership between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Department of Justice, will examine the system and suggest reforms.

The review comes after a series of stark criticisms. The Department of Justice has called conditions unconstitutional at Alabama's only prison for women.


A prison guard running against Gov. Robert Bentley says Alabama's prison system is at risk of a federal takeover because of severe overcrowding.

At a news conference Thursday in Montgomery, Stacy George said that if elected, he would create a second parole board like Gov. Bob Riley did to expedite the parole of non-violent inmates. George said he will ask the Legislature to repeal the habitual offender law that provides for longer sentences for repeat offenders and he will make the repeal retroactive. He says that could reduce the prison population by more than one-fourth.

Joe Songer-The Birmingham News

In response to concerns about jail overcrowding, state officials are considering a proposal to move some female inmates into a shuttered facility in Jefferson County.

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.