Overcapacity, Abuse, and Neglect Spark Chaos At Alabama Prison

Atmore, Alabama (TFC) Two uprisings occurred at the Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama over the past week. The first started Friday night involving fires being set after the Warden was stabbed. The second on Monday morning, involved 100 men barricading themselves inside their dormitory.

Video recorded on a smartphone funneled into the prison provided close-up views of the uprisings on Friday and Monday. A Youtube video posted on Friday shows inmates walking through the prison, one setting a fire. “It’s going down in here,” the recorder said.

The chaos on monday lasted for several hours before officials gained control of the prison. Governor Robert Bentley toured the facility the following morning along with heavily armed national guard troops. “The riots happened because guards were short-staffed”, he told reporters.

The issues people are undergoing at Holman are part of a larger pattern of abuse and neglect that Alabama prisons and jails are known for. The events are also be triggered because inmates are living in a prison that even the governor admits is severely overcrowded and in poor condition. The facility was built to house 581 inmates, but Holman now holds more than a thousand prisoners. Alabama’s prison system is at nearly 200% capacity—the highest in the country—and many of its prisons, like Holman, are decades old.

Overcrowding in Alabama’s prisons is greatly linked to a large increase of inmates serving life sentences due to the Habitual Felony Offender Act , passed 1977 to crack down on repeat criminals. The act forces anyone being charged, already having a felony, to bear substantial increase to their time beyond bars. This is viewed by many to have helped fuel the 840 percent increase in inmates since then.

The inmates at Holman Prison sent a cell phone video to freelance journalist Raven Rakia, proclaiming demands for their situation. These are their spoken demands:

  • “Immediate federal assistance”
  • The release of “all inmates who have spent excessive time in Holman Prison”
  • The abolishment of habitual felony offender laws
  • Parole for all inmates who “fit the criteria to be back in society with their families”
  • The implementation of “proper classes that will prepare inmates to be released back into society” in all Alabama prisons
  • Monetary damages for “mental pain and physical abuse that inmates have already suffered”

The Fifth Column will update on this story as it progress.

 

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Source: Jody Miller, CC0 Public Domain

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