U.S. Attorney Richard Moore of the Southern District of Alabama said in a statement the findings indicate a “flagrant disregard” for the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishments.
…For years, Alabama prisons have housed far more inmates than they were built for and employed too few correctional officers. Alabama Department of Corrections officials said the crowding and understaffing contribute to rising violence in prisons.
A spike in inmate suicides is one of the issues that has surfaced in a federal lawsuit over health care for inmates. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled in 2017 that mental health care for inmates was “horrendously inadequate.” The ADOC is under court orders to increase mental health staff and security staff.
…Over about the last five years, sentencing guidelines and criminal justice reforms enacted by the Legislature have reduced the prison population but it is still about 160 percent of the number prisons were built to hold.
…In 2014, the Justice Department found conditions at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women were unconstitutional because of a failure to protect inmates from sexual abuse and harassment by male staff.
…Today’s notification concerned two of three areas covered by the investigation, whether prisoners were protected from violence and sexual abuse by other inmates and whether conditions were safe. A third remains pending, the DOJ said — whether prisoners are adequately protected from excessive use of force by prison staff and sexual abuse by prison staff.