EIJ cites abuse in three male prisons, including ElmorePublished 8:40am Tuesday, July 9, 2013
The Montgomery-based non-profit group the Equal Justice Initiative has filed a complaint documenting alleged severe physical and sexual abuse by several correctional officers and officials in three state prisons, including the Elmore Correctional Facility.
The complaint alleges instances where prisoners at Elmore have been handcuffed, stripped naked and then beaten by several guards.
The other two facilities where the EIJ alleges abuse to male prisoners are the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer and the Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent.
“We have a lot of good correctional officers in Alabama, but we also have too many that have engaged in excessively violent behavior with impunity,” said EIJ Executive Director Bryan Stevenson. “The dangerous culture this abusive behavior creates increases the risk of violence for other correctional staff and inmates and must be addressed.”
Regarding the Elmore Correctional Facility, the EIJ alleges several inmates “have been so severely beaten that they have required hospitalization and suffered permanent injuries.”
Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas confirmed on Tuesday that the state attorney general’s office is conducting an investigation at the facility.
“When a complaint is brought forward, it will be dealt with thoroughly and aggressively,” Thomas said. “And people will be held accountable for their actions whether it’s on the administrative side or criminally.”
At the Donaldson and Bibb facilities, the EIJ alleges male correctional officers forced young male inmates to perform sex acts and threatened to file disciplinary charges against them if they reported it.
“In a prison environment, a handful of abusive officers can get away with extreme cruelty and criminal misconduct when this behavior is tolerated or when correctional authorities do not vigorously and consistently eliminate officer-on-inmate abuse,” Stevenson added.
This is the third set of accusations levied by the EIJ in the last two years regarding the treatment of male and female prisoners under the watch of the Alabama Department of Corrections.
On Monday former ADOC corrections officer Joseph Sanders, 32, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the investigation of the beating death of former inmate Rocrast Mask at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton.
On June 25, a federal jury convicted Michael Smith, who was a former lieutenant at Ventress, of civil rights and obstruction of justice regarding the same incident.
On Nov. 18, 2011, Scottie Glenn, a former corrections officer at Ventress pleaded guilty to violating civil rights and conspiring with other corrections officers to cover up the beatings.
Matthew Davidson, another former corrections officer at the Clayton facility, pleaded guilty on Jan. 15 to civil rights violations and one count of conspiring to covering up the beatings.
“Such actions have no place in our corrections system and the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit and cover up such crimes,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., deputy assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.
Earlier this year the National Institute of Corrections issued a 38-page report regarding alleged abuse and a deplorable environment at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.
In January, Thomas issued a 58-point directive for Tutwiler. He said that directive is not just for the women’s prison.
“We issued those directives to be put in place statewide,” Thomas added. “…While incidents like (Ventress) is a big black eye for me personally and in my career, I want people to know that’s certainly not the way we operate.”