Alabama prisons commissioner Jeff Dunn to retire as system faces federal pressure


ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn will retire at the end of the year.

Alabama Department of Corrections

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) will soon be under new leadership.

Commissioner Jeff Dunn will retire at the end of the year, to be replaced by John Hamm, current deputy secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Ala. Gov. Kay Ivey made the announcement Tuesday.

“Commissioner Dunn has a thankless job, but I am proud that he has led with the utmost integrity,” Ivey said in a statement. “He has helped lay the groundwork that I now look forward to building upon with John Hamm at the helm.”

During a nearly seven-year tenure, Dunn faced mounting pressure to address chronic violence, overcrowding and understaffing in Alabama’s prisons for men.

Much of the pressure comes from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which released two reports in 2019 and 2020 detailing “rampant” violence and sexual assault among incarcerated men, and excessive use of force by correctional officers.

The DOJ subsequently filed a lawsuit against Alabama in late 2020, which could lead to federal oversight if conditions don’t improve.

Ivey said the state’s prison system has made “significant progress” under Dunn’s leadership, though he’s faced criticism from advocates and some lawmakers.

Dunn’s resignation comes two months after Alabama lawmakers approved a $1.3 billion prison construction plan.

Headshot of John Hamm, the new commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. He'll replace current commissioner Jeff Dunn, who will step down at the end of December 2021 after serving a seven year term.
John Hamm, current deputy secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, will take over as Commissioner of Alabama’s prison system beginning January 1, 2022.

Incoming commissioner John Hamm has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, including work in local and state corrections.

“I am honored and humbled by Governor Ivey appointing me as commissioner of Corrections,” Hamm said in a statement. “I will work diligently with the men and women of DOC to fulfill Governor Ivey’s charge of solving the issues of Alabama’s prison system.”

Hamm will take over as ADOC commissioner effective January 1, 2022.


Old Carraway complex to be demolished all at once under new deal with city

The former hospital site will be turned into a mixed-use development, Star at Uptown, which is to include residential, retail and dining spaces, as well as an amphitheater.

Attorney General says the execution review should happen quickly, that there is ‘no moratorium’

Last month, Gov. Kay Ivey asked Attorney General Steve Marshall not to seek additional execution dates for any other death row inmates until a review is complete.

Fire department says landfill blaze that spread smoke more than 20 miles away is ‘contained’

The Moody Fire Department determined that a landfill fire that has been burning largely underground has been contained.

UAB hires ex-NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer as head coach

The former NFL quarterback most recently spent four seasons as a high school football coach.

Alabama coal miners begin their 20th month on strike

The miners have survived more than 600 days on the picket line, thanks to widespread support and anger at their employer, Warrior Met Coal. Even now, neither side seems ready to budge.

Cameras, iPads part of plan to improve garbage collection

The City Council approved a software that they say will streamline garbage routes and and improve accountability.

More Front Page Coverage