Shocking development: Alabama mistreats it’s prisoners

Okay, not shocking.  But what’s sad is how utterly not-shocking this is, but that is nonetheless a largely accepted, ongoing status quo.  From the Post:

Alabama’s understaffed and overcrowded prisons have for years allowed killings, sex abuse and other violence to go largely unchecked , according to a scathing set of findings issued Wednesday by Justice Department investigators.

The investigators found reasonable cause to suspect the state “routinely violates the constitutional rights of prisoners housed in Alabama’s prisons by failing to protect them from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, and by failing to provide safe conditions,” Justice Department officials wrote in a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey.

Federal authorities called the violations “severe, systemic, and exacerbated by serious deficiencies in staffing and supervision,” as well as an inability to control the flow of drugs and weapons inside the 13-prison system that holds roughly 16,000 male inmates…

To highlight the problem, investigators cited as an example a single week in September 2017 in which Alabama’s prisons saw a killing, three stabbings, a half-dozen severe beatings, two drug cases, four sex-abuse incidents, and a fatal drug overdose…

The investigation began in October 2016, a time when the Obama administration was a proponent of such “pattern and practice” investigations into law enforcement agencies with troubling track records of civil rights violations or mistreatment.

It continued during the Trump administration, despite then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s public statements critical of such work. Until his departure late last year, Sessions had sought to curtail pattern and practice probes in favor of criminal investigations of individuals who may have violated people’s rights.

This is truly deplorable and an abomination that a supposedly advanced and supposedly “Christian” country (as so many on the religious right like to claim) just accepts this horrible treatment of prisoners.  Prisoners are supposed to be punished by losing their liberty, not by constant threats and actions of physical violence.  And, it’s also pathetic that Sessions and many Republicans like him would like to completely ignore the fact that this happens on a completely systemic level and pretend that this is just a matter of individual actions.

This is a stain not only on Alabama, but our country as a whole that we treat our prisoners this way.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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