Opinion: Alabama's DOC Isn't Just Not Working, It Creates What It's Supposed To Be The Solution For

A. Nicole

Exposing Failures, Atrocities, and the Urgent Cry for Reform

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It has been brought to my attention by a group of mostly concerned loved ones of incarcerated or previously incarcerated individuals that the system (if you can call it that) has failed. Failed on all fronts. The system messed up inmate safety all the way. They have gone in the wrong direction with crime reduction and inmate population numbers(and no, the random overdoses and murders don’t count as an effort toward population reduction.)

At the time of this writing, there were 26389 inmates in state custody. According to the CDC, in 2021, the age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 5.3% to 879.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population from 835.4.in 2020. Thanks to ADOC’s bang-up job, we know that there were at least 266 inmate deaths in 2022. The Equal Justice Initiative came up with these figures:

ADOC reported 266 deaths in 2022. More than one in five of these deaths was due to homicide, suicide, or drug overdose. With 266 deaths in a custody population of 20,569, according to ADOC's most recent reporting, Alabama prisons had a mortality rate of 1,293 deaths per 100,000 in 2022.

That number does not tell the real story about the very real and unnecessary danger these inmates are subjected to upon entry. Out of the Alabama Department of Corrections' many holding facilities, the deaths mostly only occur in one of the medium or close security facilities as of 2022. They include: 

  • Holman……………….189                                               
  • Elmore……………….1159
  • Staton………………..1374
  • Bibb………………….1644 
  • Donaldson…………..1403
  • St. Clair………………1060
  • Limestone……………2404
  • Ventress……………..1237
  • Kilby……………….…1203
  • Fountain …………….1266
  • Easterling………..…..1245
  • Bullock………….…....1518
  • Hamilton………….……255                                                                                               
  • Total ………..….15,957

Using those numbers, the age-adjusted mortality rate per 100,000 jumps to 1,729.  That is nearly double the average mortality rate in the free world. The fact that these 13 facilities have such little control over the inmates they have deemed to be a danger to society and remanded into custody should make every tax-paying citizen pissed the hell off! 

An Unfulfilled Promise

The federal government claims we are protected under the Constitution. They tell us we do not have to endure cruel and usual punishment for perceived crimes, yet the inmates in Alabama’s prison”system” tell horrifying and graphic accounts of trauma they experienced or witnessed.

The Horrors Inside

The atrocities being inflicted on these, albeit convicted criminals, are not justice. The worst part about the situation regarding the prisons in Alabama is the fact that it is a known and ongoing issue commonly ignored. Also, there are several potential actions that could be implemented to encourage change in the right direction, but they don’t even attempt to give them a real try.   

This is Adam. 

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A Mother's Plea: The Agonizing Search for Answers in Alabama's Prison System

Rebecca Crafton, a mother from Bessemer, Alabama, is struggling with the heart-wrenching reality of her son's recent ordeal within the walls of Donaldson Prison. In an exclusive testimony, she reveals the agonizing journey she has endured to uncover the truth about her son's well-being.

Crafton received a distressing call on November 6, notifying her that her son had been life-flighted to the hospital. Desperate for information, she immediately reached out to the prison authorities, only to be met with a wall of silence that persisted for an excruciating 24.5 hours. She recounts that the relentless pursuit of answers was met with repeated dismissals and bureaucratic hurdles.

Quietest 48 Hours

It wasn't until the 48-hour mark that a mother learned the gravity of her son's situation. Stab wounds, puncture wounds, lacerations—her son had undergone not just surgery but brain surgery. A mother’s need to know fueled her determination to literally pry the details of the incident that had left her son in such a dire state out of ADOC.

Growing Frustration

Her frustration with the prison staff, particularly Nurse Morgan, was palpable in her account. Despite being both his mother and emergency contact, she faced a brigade of excuses and delays in obtaining information about her son's condition. The lack of compassion and transparency she experienced during this trying time has rightfully left her questioning the competence of those entrusted with the well-being of the inmates.

Crafton highlighted the utter disregard for human rights and basic compassion within the prison system in her testimony. Her desperate attempts to communicate with Nurse Morgan, who seemed more concerned with bureaucratic procedures than a mother's plea for information, only deepened her sense of powerlessness.

As the days passed without concrete answers, she turned to every avenue available, reaching out to senators, congressmen, and even legal assistance. The glaring gaps in communication, the lack of empathy, and the seemingly impenetrable bureaucratic walls have left Crafton disgusted with a system that should prioritize the safety and well-being of its inmates.

Crafton's story is even more evidence of the systemic issues within the Alabama Department of Corrections. As she continues to fight for her son's rights, Crafton's plea resonates not just as a mother's cry for justice but as a call to action for a prison system desperately in need of reform.

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As always, thank you for reading. 

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Citizen journalist. News Junkie. Dog Mom. Writer. Call me what you like, just be sure to read what I write.

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