ACLU OF ALABAMA CALLS ON LEADERS TO MAKE PRISONS TOP PRIORITY IN COVID-19 RESPONSE

Montgomery, Ala. — Close to 22,000 Alabamians incarcerated by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) face a much higher risk of contracting coronavirus than the general public, but there’s been no mention of plans to ensure their safety and well-being. Last week Governor Kay Ivey announced the formation of a Coronavirus Task Force, and the ACLU of Alabama urges the group to prioritize plans for Alabama prisons, which were already experiencing a sustained overcrowding and understaffing crisis before the pandemic.

Statement from Randall Marshall, Executive Director, ACLU of Alabama:

“Incarcerated people cannot follow the CDC recommendation of social distancing, and because Alabama prisons are already operating at 170 percent of their designed capacity, these men and women are at an increased risk of exposure and contamination in the prison population. Furthermore, with over 20 percent of people in ADOC custody over the age of 50, there are thousands who are at higher risk of serious health complications or death if they are infected.

It is imperative that the Governor and ADOC release their plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside the prisons, to quarantine and care for any prisoner who shows symptoms, and to ensure all supplies and food remain stocked during this crisis. They must also address how they plan to provide continued staffing in the event of staff shortages due to illness or caring for an ill family member. ADOC staffing is currently at 40 percent.

These and other questions must be answered now. Alabama leaders have historically disregarded the health and safety of the men and women incarcerated in state prisons. The ACLU of Alabama urges state leaders to not follow that old pattern and make prisons a top priority in Alabama’s COVID-19 response.”

Please sign the petition here calling for President Trump and all state governors to heed the recommendations of public health professionals: Release communities who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 – particularly the elderly and sick – and reduce overcrowding in our criminal legal system.

 

BILL REQUIRES JAILS TO PROVIDE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS TO INMATES

 

Bill requires jails to provide menstrual products to inmates
Julia Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka. (Source: WBRC file photo)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A bill would require jails and prisons to provide female inmates with tampons or sanitary pads.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 101-0 Tuesday for the legislation that now moves to the Alabama Senate.

The bill by Rep. Rolanda Hollis of Birmingham would write into law that jails and prisons are required to provide the items.

Hollis says she has heard stories of inmates resorting to fashioning their own hygiene items when they could not obtain them.

Department of Corrections Bob Horton says feminine hygiene items are readily available in bathrooms at Alabama’s only prison for women.

The state prison system in 2015 agreed to make the products available and free as part of a wide-ranging settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to improve conditions at the prison.

Originally published here