LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) says inmates have stopped performing their duties in prisons across the state as part of a protest against living conditions inside the facilities.
The strike comes as loved ones rallied outside ADOC in Montgomery on Monday calling for prison reform and better conditions.
“The strike does not end until the demands are met,” said one rally attendee.
A full list of demands from protestors includes the following:
- Repeal the Habitual Offender Law immediately
- Make the presumptive sentencing standards retroactive immediately
- Repeal the drive-by shooting statute
- Create a state-wide Conviction Integrity Unit
- Mandatory parole criteria that will guarantee parole to all eligible persons who meet the criteria
- Streamlined review process for medical furloughs and review of elderly incarcerated individuals for immediate release
- Reduction of the 30-year minimum for juvenile offenders to no more than 15 years before they are eligible for parole
- Do away with life without parole
“A sentence in Alabama’s prison system should not be an automatic death sentence, and that is exactly what it’s become,” said rally organizer Christina Horvat.
Prisons in Alabama have been a major talking point for years after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began an investigation into facilities across the state back in 2016.
Four years later, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against ADOC over the conditions, saying inmates were being denied their eighth and fourteenth amendment rights.
They are not getting their medical treatments, their basic human rights met,” said Horvat.
Family members say the prison protests at facilities across the state aim to bring awareness to the poor conditions.
“Everybody is unified to stop giving them free labor, and it’s not because of the work conditions,” Horvat explained. “These guys aren’t complaining about working. They are just not going to help them do their job anymore after everything that’s been taken away from them.”
Just last week, the family of Kastellio Vaughan, who is serving a 25-year sentence at the Elmore Correctional Facility, released disturbing photos of Vaughan looking emaciated and unable to sit up after having surgery in August and taken back to the prison. ADOC has refused to comment on Vaughan’s condition.
“What we saw on this video that surfaced recently of the brother Kastellio, that was something we have seen for years. His situation just highlighted what’s been going on in prisons for years,” said one protestor to the crowd standing in front of ADOC’s Headquarters.
News 19 spoke with one mother of a non-violent offender whose son is in the Limestone Correctional Facility. She says her son reported only getting one slice of bread and one slice of cheese for breakfast on Monday. After they last spoke Monday morning, the prison went on lockdown.
“I feel like they are starving them on purpose because they knew this was going to happen today, and the state doesn’t have enough employees to do these jobs so they have to rely on the inmates to do them,” said one mother with an incarcerated son.
ADOC issued this statement to News 19:
“The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has had reports of inmate worker stoppages at all major Correctional Facilities in the state. Controlled movement and other security measures have been deployed. The ADOC does not comment on security procedures due to the safety of the inmates, our staff, and the public. According to Commissioner John Hamm, ‘All facilities are operational and there have been no disruption of critical services.’ All meals are happening.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement:
“Governor Ivey is, first and foremost, committed to ensuring public safety, plain and simple. These “demands” – as the protestors refer to them – are unreasonable and would flat out not be welcomed in Alabama. It is also important for these protestors to understand that a lot of their demands would require legislation, not unilateral action. Some of these demands suggest that criminals like murderers and serial child sex offenders can walk the streets, and I can tell you that will never happen in the state of Alabama where we will always prioritize the safety of our citizens.
Governor Ivey appreciates the work of the correctional staff – the boots on the ground – who come to work each day to serve the people of Alabama by keeping our inmates and the public safe. Thanks to the Alabama Legislature, we can also look forward to the construction of new prison facilities that will create all around better conditions to live, work and rehabilitate. There has been no governor more focused on improving the state’s corrections system and bolstering public safety than Governor Ivey.”Gina Maiola, communications director for the office of Governor Kay Ivey