Federal investigators spent two years investigating prisons in Alabama and found that inmates were regularly subjected to horrifying violence and sexual abuse. They discovered a “broken system” in which people are murdered “on a regular basis” and the few officers on duty seemed powerless to establish any semblance of control.
Conditions were so horrible that the Justice Department concluded they likely violate the Constitutions prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
The prisons are severely understaffed, leaving prisoners to fend for themselves. The report concludes that prison officials appear to have accepted “the high level of violence and sexual abuse as a normal course of business.”
“Prisoners who are seriously injured or stabbed must find their way to security staff elsewhere in the facility or bang on the door of the dormitory to gain the attention of correctional officers,” the report concludes. “Prisoners have been tied up for days by other prisoners while unnoticed by security staff.”
There are so few officers that weapons are easily obtained throughout the system. In one particularly violent housing unit, a captain estimated that up to 200 of the 1,900 inmates likely possessed homemade knives. The report showed a guard holding what appears to be a homemade sword, that was recovered in 2017.
To top it off, hundreds of sexual assault incidents were reported, but ultimately written off as consensual “homosexual activity,” even when the victim showed signs of physical assault. “Staffers seemed resigned to the idea that prisoners “will be subjected to sexual abuse as a way to pay debts accrued to other prisoners.”
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