Viral video brings a voice to the voiceless

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UNION SPRINGS, Ala. (WDHN) — The video filmed at Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs has raised many concerns about the overpopulation and inhumane living conditions prisoners are facing.

“I am just the voice of the voiceless when a family member goes in, you go in there with them, so from the time that my family member has been in, I have been doing time right along with him, I would like for someone else to see and hear what I see and hear,” says Lenora Butler, a family member of an inmate at Bullock Correctional Facility.

Butler has recently been worried about the health and safety of her family members in Bullock after a video circulated showing the conditions of the jail not to mention the COVID-19 outbreaks in her loved one’s dorm. The video reveals the run-down conditions of Bullock and the lack of social distancing and quarantine procedures.

The state’s general fund budget is responsible for the budget of the Department of Corrections. Representative Clouse, the chairman of the general fund budget, acknowledges the neglect in these facilities.

“It’s a dire situation right now and it has been for many many years, we are not different from other states dealing with corrections, and uh, one of the reasons is that there is just not a will amongst the population to fund prisons the way that they should be funded and I understand that,” said Alabama State Representative for District 93, Steve Clouse.

Clouse says most people prefer tax dollars to go towards education, roads, and bridges.

“At the end of the day you know, we have to fund prisons for our public safety, we have to fund Medicaid, we have to fund mental health, uh, they’re not the sexy part of the budget but they are things that need to be funded,” Clouse said.

And when it comes to COVID precautions, Clouse recognizes the dilemma caused by overpopulation in prisons.

“It’s very difficult to social distance particularly when we have the overcrowded situations that we have in our prison systems. So it does present even extra problems that we weren’t having to deal with even this time last year,” Clouse said.

Butler says there is a solution but granting parole has been an ongoing issue since before the pandemic.

“They do need to let some of these people go, and I can’t even imagine how they are even sleeping at night to know that COVID-19 is in the prisons,” Butler said.

Representative Clouse says the issues surrounding state prisons, parole, and overpopulation all comes down to inadequate funding. He also mentioned that jails are using CARES act funds to test inmates for COVID-19.

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