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DOJ Investigates Possible Prisoners’ Rights Violations in Alabama

By Christopher Zoukis The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a statewide probe on whether conditions in Alabama’s 14 prisons for men violate the rights of inmates. The investigation is under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which allows action against jails or prisons that show patterns or

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Alabama resumes executions as appeals court fails to intervene

A Montgomery, Ala.-based federal appeals court has refused to delay the execution of a state prisoner, even as his lawyers contended his conviction might be invalid in light of a recent Supreme Court decision and argued the execution ought to await the outcome of a lawsuit that could find executions in the state unconstitutionally cruel.

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College for Convicts

Twenty-five miles from Montgomery, Ala., in the middle of the tough-on-crime, fiscally conservative Deep South, sits an unusual place of learning. A 20-foot fence with razor wire surrounds the campus. Armed guards stand at the entrances. Students wear jumpsuits, with ID numbers printed on the right side of the chest. This is J. F. Ingram

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Visitors Fingerprinted at Alabama Prisons

By Prison Legal News

Alabama’s prison system is the first – and currently only – in the nation to require visitors to be fingerprinted. In late 2012, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) implemented the new policy due to what officials claimed was a need for greater efficiency. A new computer system had the capacity to scan fingerprints, something the old system was not able to do. The fingerprinting procedure was “part of the upgrade” and the brainchild of the ADOC’s IT department, according to prison system spokesman Brian Corbett.

The old system required guards to review each visitor’s driver’s license to verify their identity before allowing them into a state prison.

“That was a time-consuming task,” Corbett told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Now, the verification process is much faster, so visitors are moved through the process much faster.”

“We still require visitors to have a government-issued photo ID, and that requirement will remain in place,” he added. “But there are times when someone else resembles the photo on an ID. Scanning the fingerprint of visitors verifies they are who they say they are.”

The program prompted an immediate response from the American Civil Liberties Union. David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, didn’t buy the ADOC’s purported security concerns.

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Using Education to Stop the Prison Revolving Door

By Lois Davis / AL.com  Image courtesy blog.al.com According to the Department of Justice, in 2012, Alabama had the third highest imprisonment rate in the United States, trailing only Louisiana and Mississippi. A fierce debate has erupted over what to do to reduce overcrowding in Alabama prisons at a time when the state’s budget is tighter

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Female Prison Inmates Struggle at Alabama Prison for Women

By Christopher Zoukis

When you put any human being in a box and put others in charge, you create an environment that is ripe for abuse without strict oversight.  Unfortunately, because prisons are supposed to be a punishment for law breakers (and those confined therein have left victims in their wake), there is often very little sympathy for inmates, and that means that millions of inmates are placed in prisons that are matrices for abuse.

Female prison inmates are especially prone to abuse from prison guards and other prison employees, because it is more difficult for them to defend themselves against such abuses.  The United States Department of Justice is currently investigating one of the worst cases of this abuse at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama, where rapes and harassment have been common occurrence for almost two decades.

Years of Abuse in Alabama Prison for Women

It is estimated that over 33 percent of the female prisoners at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women have been forced into sexual relations with employees of the prison, often for basic necessities such as toilet paper.  The New York Times reports that this type of abuse has not only been active for over 18 years, but that prison officials knew of the abuse early on and did nothing to put a stop to it.  They simply turned a blind eye.

While abusive prison employees are, and have been, an ongoing problem at the prison, local lawmakers argue that there are three other reasons responsible for these abhorrent conditions:

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