Prisons

DOJ Lawsuit Could Lead To Federal Oversight Of Alabama Prisons

More than a year after finding unconstitutional conditions in Alabama's male prisons, federal officials are taking legal action against the state.

Slated For A Mega Prison, Brierfield Residents Demand Answers

Gov. Kay Ivey recently announced where she wants to build three new mega prisons. Residents are pushing back on the plan.

Cam Ward Plans New Direction For Pardons And Paroles

State Sen. Cam Ward is replacing Charlie Graddick as director of Alabama's Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. Under Graddick's leadership, paroles rates declined significantly.

Alabama’s New Prisons Planned For Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties

State officials announced the latest development in their plan to replace most existing male prisons with three regional prisons.

DOJ Finds Excessive Use of Force In Alabama’s Male Prisons

In one case, a lieutenant slammed a handcuffed prisoner on a concrete floor several times, knocking him unconscious and leaving him unable to breathe. He required hospitalization.

New Exhibit Features Artwork From Alabama Inmates

The issues around Alabama's troubled prison system are complex, but a new exhibit featuring artwork by Alabama inmates hopes to generate a different conversation.

Construction, Welding, GED: The Impact Of Prison Education

Across Alabama, state inmates are getting GED certificates, learning to fix cars, and even how to code. As Alabama faces mounting pressure to reform its prison system, many state leaders want to increase funding for these educational programs.

Study: Diversion Programs Work – When They Don’t Sabotage Participants

There are many alternatives to prison including drug courts, veterans courts and community corrections. But a new report says in many cases these alternatives hinder rather than help those they are supposed to serve.

Possible Focus on Inmate Education, DOC Oversight in 2020 Session

The 2020 legislative session begins Tuesday and prisons are at the top of the agenda. Lawmakers are likely to consider proposals presented last week by Governor Kay Ivey's Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy.

Prisons Officials Request $42 Million Increase to Hire Staff, Improve Healthcare

Prisons will be a top issue in the upcoming legislative session. The state Department of Corrections presented its budget request Thursday, along with the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

Inmate Deaths Prompt Alabama Prisons To Take Steps to Curb Violence

The Alabama Department of Corrections announced this week it is taking measures to cut down on prison violence. This follows the deaths of two inmates. One death allegedly involved the use of force by corrections staff.

Relatives of Alabama Inmates Call on Prisons Task Force to Improve Conditions

Advocates and relatives of Alabama prisoners called on Gov. Kay Ivey's criminal justice study group to implement reforms. Concerns at Wednesday's meeting ranged from violent prison conditions to the lack of re-entry services.

After Two Month Delay, Parole Hearings Will Resume

The Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles will resume parole hearings Tuesday. The state agency postponed hundreds of hearings since September, citing new legal requirements.

Advocates Want Lawmakers to End the Habitual Offender Act

Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Criminal Justice Policy meets Thursday to talk sentencing. Advocates want the group to address the state’s Habitual Felony Offender Act.

Governor’s Study Group Meets on Prison Operations

Gov. Kay Ivey's task force on criminal justice policy convened Wednesday in Montgomery to discuss the state's troubled prison system.

Prison Re-Entry Program to Expand with $6 Million Grant

When prisoners are released, they often face lots of hurdles. They can't find work or housing or health care. Often, they end up back in prison. The Dannon Project recently received a large federal grant that will allow the nonprofit to help more former inmates get on their feet.

SPLC Proposes ‘Collaborative Process’ to Address Prison Crisis

The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Kay Ivey and state Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn proposing its own plan to address the state's prison crisis.

Alabama Legislature Considers an Abortion Ban and Prison Reforms

This week Alabama lawmakers considered a bill that would make abortions a felony unless the mother's health is at risk. And it wrestled with a solution to the state's prisons crisis.

DOJ Alleges Alabama Prisons Violate the Constitution

The Department of Justice released a report Wednesday alleging that violence and other dangerous conditions in the state’s male prisons violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Lawmakers Tackle Alabama’s Persistent Prison Problems

Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and plagued by violence. Mental health care for inmates is inadequate. There have been suicides and homicides within prison walls. Alabama Sen. Cam Ward explains how lawmakers are approaching the problems.

Alabama Says its $900 Million Prisons Plan Can Help Fix Mental Health Crisis. Some Disagree.

As Alabama prisons continue to grapple with a federal lawsuit over mental health care, officials say they have a plan: they want to build three big regional prisons for men.

Governor Announces Plan to Build Three Prisons for Men

Governor Kay Ivey announced Tuesday a plan to replace existing prison facilities with three regional men's prisons to address "violence, poor living conditions and mental illness" in Alabama's corrections system.

Alabama Prison Officials “Deliberately Indifferent” to Mental Health Needs

A federal judge ruled the Alabama prison system has failed to monitor the mental health of prisoners isolated in segregation cells, a failure to which the Alabama Department of Corrections is “deliberately indifferent,” the order says.

Senate Committee Approves Prison Consolidation Plan

A Senate budget committee approved a prison construction bill Wednesday. The bill would close  14 state prisons and build four large regional facilities. Senator Cam Ward was among the bill’s supporters, citing prison overcrowding issues. “Everyone says well you can’t build — and I’ve said this before — you can’t build your way out of the […]

Bentley Calls Tutwiler Settlement ‘Positive Step’ For State

Governor Robert Bentley is praising a settlement between the state and the U.S. Justice Department over conditions at Alabama's only prison for women. Bentley says the agreement announced Thursday is a "positive step forward" for the corrections agency.

What’s In Alabama’s Prison Reform Bill?

Alabama's prison reform bill was approved today by a 31-2 vote in the Alabama Senate. The bill contains major changes to the state’s sentencing and probation rules with the goal of reducing prison over-crowding. Alabama's prisons are currently at almost 200 percent capacity. The bill was crafted by the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force with the help of The Council of State Governments, a nonprofit that works with policymakers across the country. WBHM’s Rachel Osier Lindley spoke with Andy Barbee, research manager with The Council of State Governments about some of the most important policy changes in the Alabama Justice Reinvestment Act and how Alabama’s challenges rank nationally.

The 2015 Alabama Legislative Session Kicks off on Tuesday

The 2015 Alabama legislative session kicks off on Tuesday. From prisons to the state's budget deficit to education, this year's session will be full of important -- and even controversial -- issues. Here to give us a preview of what to expect is Don Dailey, host of Alabama Public Television's Capital Journal.

Alabama’s Prison Reform Task Force Readies Bill For 2015 Legislative Session

Alabama's overcrowded prison system has been under close scrutiny since the Justice Department started investigating it last year. If big changes aren't made during the upcoming legislative session, the state risks a federal takeover. Alabama's Prison Reform Task Force is working to draft legislation to improve the prison system. State Senator Cam Ward of Alabaster is the task force's chairman. Ward sat down with WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley to talk about the proposed legislation, and who has been involved in the process.

Lectures Behind Bars

Few people normally go to Donaldson Correctional Facility, a state prison in far western Jefferson County. But twice a month UAB faculty travel to this maximum security prison to lecture to inmates. It's been happening for almost three decades. Reporter Ashley Cleek sits in on a class.

A College For Inmates, And An Interview With Its President

The United States locks up people at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world. Some of the most overcrowded prisons are right here in Alabama. Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women is one of them. But some inmates there have access to a unique state-funded program that offers academics and "life skills" they'll need after release. The problem is, this J.F. Ingram State Technical College program, which could ease overcrowding, is struggling for funds. WBHM's Dan Carsen has the story and a full-length interview with J.F. Ingram's president.

INTERVIEW: Inmate And Horticulture Student Timothy Brown

Alabama's J.F. Ingram State may be the nation's only state-run two-year college exclusively for inmates. Its mission is to reduce recidivism by offering "three legs of the stool": academics, life skills, and vocational training. WBHM's Dan Carsen recently visited Ingram's Deatsville campus, where he met Timothy Brown, a 53-year-old convicted robber and burglar serving a life sentence but hoping for parole. Brown had walked over from the Frank Lee minimum-security facility next door. He'd been passing around organic cantaloupe and filling in for his horticulture teacher. Dan starts the interview by asking Brown if doing the latter makes him nervous.

Alabama Gets National Attention, Working Across Political Lines

Today on Morning Edition, NPR's Steve Inskeep talks with Alabama State Sentator Cam Ward and attorney Maria Morris of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The theme of the story - working across political lines to reduce overcrowding and other critical issues in Alabama's Prisons.