A look at fixes Justice Department wants in Alabama prisons

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department says that in addition to long-term measures, the Alabama Department of Corrections should make immediate changes in response to constitutional violations in its prisons. Here is a brief summary:


— Staff and electronically monitor the perimeters and screen anyone entering facilities.

— Consult with an approved expert on the feasibility of realigning low-risk, nonviolent inmates to local oversight.

— Hire 500 additional corrections officers in prisons in the short-term, but by 2020 bring staffing in compliance with a judge’s orders in an ongoing prison mental health lawsuit. The judge has said the state will need to add as many as 2,000 or more officers by 2022.

— Work with federal experts to assess the skills and continued leadership of all wardens.


— Stop subjecting victims to discipline for unrelated conduct when they seek help or protection from harm.

— Provide remedial security training to all correctional staff.

— Conduct documented security rounds in all living areas at least once every hour, every half-hour with special management populations and even more frequently with prisoners on suicide watch.

— Develop a centralized autopsy system, assess for trends and correct problems.


— Shake down at least 15% of housing units every day. Search all group areas weekly and other areas daily, documenting the results and addressing patterns.

— Ensure every entrance to every facility has a working metal detector, with a procedure to use them on everyone coming in.

— Consult with an approved expert on other ways of detecting illegal drugs and other contraband, and change screening methods accordingly.

— Provide adequate evidence-based medical treatment for all prisoners detoxifying as illegal drugs are eliminated.


— Avoid subjecting victims to discipline when they seek help because of threatened or actual sexual abuse.

— Bring in professionals to investigate and properly document every allegation of sexual abuse.

— Hire an approved, nationally recognized expert on prison rapes to suggest immediate and long-term remedies

— Reclassify every prisoner to ensure potential predators are separated from potential victims.


— Identify all the broken locks and repair them.

— Ensure at least 80% of each prison’s toilets, sinks and showerheads work.

— Install cameras in federally approved locations, retaining video relevant to assaults until they are fully prosecuted or dismissed. Wardens should review video at least monthly. Broken equipment should be replaced within 72 hours.

— Take preliminary steps to provide humane living conditions in the three prisons in the worst physical condition.

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