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.
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.
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.
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.