MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Nine months ago, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue Alabama if a plan wasn’t in place to fix what they called “unconstitutional conditions inside state prisons.”
Since that time, Gov. Kay Ivey created a study group on criminal justice policy, which is expected to release their findings Tuesday.
“It is an Alabama problem that’s got to have an Alabama solution,” Ivey said.
Criminal justice advocates say conditions inside Alabama prisons are not getting better, mostly due to low staffing. However, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn dismisses those claims, pointing to the department’s hiring record.
“In the last eight months alone, we have hired more correctional officers at a faster rate than any period in the last 5 to 10 years, certainly since I’ve been here,” Dunn said on a recent episode of “Capitol Journal” on Alabama Public Television.
Dunn said that in 2019, ADOC hired a total of 193 correctional officers.
“It’s slow it’s hard work just like all the areas we will continue to work this as hard as we can,” he said.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, said Alabama prisons have the highest homicide rate in the nation.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, and it’s not safe,” Stevenson said. “It’s not constitutional and it’s not just.”
Ahead of the criminal justice study group meeting, advocates for criminal justice reform plan to have a rally at the State House in Montgomery.