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Sex in Prison quid pro quo says six

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Editor’s note: Six women were interviewed for this report all are current or former inmates at the Tutwiller Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

Only three women are quoted to avoid confusion but all agreed with the others statements. All the names have been changed to protect the women’s identity.

MONTGOMERY–On May 22, 2012, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department alleging evidence of “frequent and severe officer-on-inmate sexual violence.”

The group’s Executive Director Bryan Stevenson has used the words “rape and sexual assault” as a description of what he believes is taking place at the Tutwiller Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

As of May 2012 the Justice Department has issued a statement saying they have opened an investigation into the allegations.

Few would disagree that rape is a serious charge. The very word can send shock waves of graft images though the mind and media.

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“In all my years at Tutwiller, I have seen lots of sex but ain’t never seen anyone raped by a CIO [correctional officers],” says Monica. “I have seen a bunch of tit for tat (she laughs) but never seen nobody forced.” Monica who is serving a 20 year sentence at Tutwiller says she like many old-timers have become very familiar with the law and she has one question to ask, “If all these smart people outside have uncovered 50 cases of rape, then how come they haven’t uncovered 50 civil law suits?”

Six women where interviewed for this report who are either currently incarcerated at Tutwiller Prison for Women or have been in the passed two years. The women spoke on condition of anonymity.

The six agree that prison rape as described by EJI is an act they have never witnessed at Tutwiller.

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According to the FBI rape is defined as “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

“You got to understand, most of us have been trading sex for favors all our lives, I learned my lesson at thirteen,” says Lucy, a middle-aged woman who says she has been in and out of correction facilities most of her life.

“My uncle is the one who taught me,” she said. “One Saturday, my uncle took me for a ride in his car. We went way out in the country. He had sex and I got some new high tops. That’s the way it works here too.”

While these women’s statements by no means excuses the acts of correctional officers or employees, it certainly paints a very different picture than the one the MSM and EJI have offered.

All of the women interviewed said they have witnessed consensual sex between inmates and correctional employees but that it is seldom and rare.

The report by EJI has set off a media firestorm but no verifiable analysis of the accusations is given by EJI or the media. The reports relies solely on word of the interviewees at the prison and the EJI.

The Alabama Department of Corrections in a response to the allegation made by the EJI states, “The ADOC maintains a policy of zero-tolerance for inmate sexual offenses and custodial sexual misconduct. Departmental practices and procedures are in place to help identify, monitor, and track alleged sexual assaults and sexual misconduct; to maintain statistics ensuring compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA); and to take appropriate actions against employees found in violation.”

The Commissioner of corrections makes a strong statement concerning the ADOC positions.

“This is a matter of grave concern to me. Sexual misconduct of any kind, including custodial sexual misconduct, is not tolerated by this Department,” said Commissioner Kim Thomas. “From the beginning of my watch, I have made it very clear to my staff that custodial sexual misconduct will not be tolerated and is an especially egregious offense to me. We take every action possible to prevent it from happening and if it does, we undertake prompt corrective employee discipline and pursue criminal prosecution where applicable.”

Of the six women in this report one admitted to sex with a prison official.

“I got there like many woman, I was hooked on drugs and I did some pretty stupid things,” said Eve, a thirty-something woman who today looks more like a school teacher than a former inmate. “I was an addict plain and simple, My then boyfriend and I used to get high for fun, just on weekends, the next thing I know we are cooking meth and selling it.”

Eve said that she got close to the CIO she had sex with, she says now she knows that it was wrong but that at the time she needed a man to look after her and to keep her safe and that the CIO was all those things to her.

“When I entered Tutwiller I still had an addict’s mentality, which meant I would do whatever I needed to do to get what I wanted and to feel safe,” said Eve.

Eve says many incarcerated woman have a history of bad relationships as well as a poor decision making skills. This she believes is in part a catalysts to sexual relationships with CIO.

“You don’t wake up in Tutwiller and start making all the right moves, all of a sudden,” says Lucy. “Tutwiler is a hellhole and most of us are just making it day by day.” Lucy continues, “If sex get you some nice or pretty things then some of these girls are going to put out for them.”

Monica says, “Some of these men want what a woman’s got and we know it, they [CIOs] are men, when you got men and women together you going to have sex going on, that’s the basics.” Monica continues, “Nobody, wants my **** ass, or I might get me some too,” she laughs.

According to the EJI report “More than 20 TutwiLler employees have been transferred or terminated in the past five years for having illegal sexual contact with prisoners. From 2009 to 2011, six correctional officers were convicted for criminal sexual abuse of women prisoners.

According to the ADOC, there are multiple ways for complaints of custodial sexual misconduct to be made, including the use of a toll free PREA hotline, or writing or talking to assigned PREA staff within each facility.

“It is never right for a CIO to have sex with inmate but it is also never right for the inmate to have sex with a CIO,” says Eve. “Yes, they have power but there is always a way out.”

In a report by the Montgomery Advertiser, “Since 2009, six Tutwiller employees have been convicted for crimes related to sexual misconduct. Five employees were charged with one count of custodial sexual misconduct, a Class C felony defined as engaging in sexual conduct with someone under the disciplinary watch of the state.”

According to the Advertiser, “Court records showed three of the defendants pleaded guilty to custodial sexual misconduct, one pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and two pleaded guilty to harassing communications.

Another correctional employee, served six months in jail after pleading guilty to custodial sexual misconduct after a DNA test proved he had impregnated an inmate. “

“In the past five years, numerous women have complained that they became pregnant after male correctional staff at the prison raped them,” EJI Director Stevenson said.

Monica an inmate at Tutwiller says she doesn’t buy Stevenson’s definition of rape. “I’m sorry, baby, but you can’t rape the willing.”

All the women agree that there are abuses of power at Tutwiller, however they all disagree with the report by EJI.

Eve, who says she is working toward a job in mental health says, “What is happening between the CIO and the inmate is consensual sex, but there is a real and inappropriate abuse of power in these exchanges.” Eve says that the ADOC has to work harder at rooting out correctional staff that commit such acts. She says there is a great need to educate woman to make better choices. “My time at Tutwiller changed me,” said Eve. “I never want to go back there and I never want to be the person I was then in their either.”

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Elections

Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend

Brandon Moseley

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Trump boat parade

As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.

The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.

The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.

A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.

Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.

Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.

The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.

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Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.

Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.

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Health

COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases continue to rise

Eddie Burkhalter

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COVID-19 Corona Influenza Virus Molecules Image Stock Photo

The number of rising hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama is a concerning sign of a possible coming surge of the disease, state health experts said Friday. Alabama hospitals were caring for 888 coronavirus patients Friday, the highest number since Sept 9. 

UAB Hospital was caring for around 80 COVID-19 inpatients Friday afternoon, said Dr. Rachael Lee, an infectious disease specialist at UAB, speaking to reporters Friday. UAB Hospital hasn’t had that many coronavirus inpatients since Aug. 18, when the disease was surging statewide.

“We have been dealing with this since March, and I think it’s easy for us to drop our guard,” Lee said. 

Alabama added 3,852 new coronavirus cases on Friday, but 1,287 of them were older positive antigen tests, conducted in June through October and submitted to ADPH by a facility in Mobile, according to the department. Still, Alabama’s daily case count has been increasing, concerning health officials already worried that as the weather turns colder and the flu season ramps up, Alabama could see a surge like the state had in July.

Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases was 1,247 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept 4. Over the last 14 days, Alabama has added 17,451 new COVID-19 cases.

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Friday’s inclusion of those older positive test results throws off the day’s percent positivity, by Thursday the state’s percent of tests that were positive was nearly 16 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.

The state added 16 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing to total confirmed deaths statewide to 2,859. Over the last two weeks, 206 deaths were reported in the state. Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily deaths on Friday was 15.

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Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told APR by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”

Harris noted the data dump of older confirmed cases in Friday’s data, but said “but nevertheless, I think it’s clear our numbers are going up.”

Harris said it’s not yet clear what’s causing the continued spread, but said it may be due at least in part to larger private gatherings. ADPH staff has mentioned a few outbreaks association with such gatherings, but Harris said it’s hard to know for certain if that’s the major driver in the state’s rising numbers.

“It’s football season and the holidays are coming up and school is back in session,” Harris said. “I think people are just not being as safe as they were.”

Harris noted that on ADPH’s color-coded, risk indicator dashboard, red counties, which denotes counties with rising cases and percent positivity, the 17 red counties on Friday were distributed across the state.

“So there’s not one event, or even a handful of events. It seems like there’s just a lot of things happening in a lot of places,” Harris said.

Alabama’s rising numbers are mirrored in many states. The U.S. reported more than 71,600 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, nearing the country’s record highs, set in July.

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News

Birmingham approves $1.3 million contract for real-time crime center technology

Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.

John H. Glenn

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Birmingham City Council approved a five-year, $1.3 million contract with Motorola this week to provide new technology for the police department’s real-time crime center amid unease and public concern over the potential use of facial recognition software within the new systems.

Mayor Randall Woodfin insisted in his remarks made before the council that the new technology is meant to integrate existing hardware and technology inside the real-time crime center. “You’re not buying any additional new equipment,” he said, “You’re buying something to integrate all those systems.”

The software suite includes Motorola Solutions’s CommandCentral Aware, a system that aggregates video, image and other data information into one interface, and BriefCam, a “video synopsis” system that will further integrate and analyze information from Birmingham’s ShotSpotter systems, public cameras and police body cameras.

Briefcam offers facial recognition capabilities, which was the main concern of community members speaking before the council, and the risk that use of the technology could disproportionately affect Black people. Facial recognition technology has a record of racial bias and misidentifies Black people at rates five to 10 times higher than white people.

“Despite assurances that there will not be facial recognition implemented at this phase that does not prevent it from being implemented in the future,” said Joseph Baker, Founder of I Believe in Birmingham and one of the Birmingham residents voicing concern on the proposal. “I believe that this software, if fully implemented, can easily lead to violations of unreasonable searches.”

Another resident who spoke against the resolution was Byron Lagrone, director of engineering at medical software solutions company Abel Healthcare Enterprises. Lagrone pointed to IBM and Amazon as examples of companies that have halted or abandoned facial recognition and object tracking software altogether over racial bias concerns.

“The prevailing attitude, among technical people is this technology is not effective, and it causes high amounts of harm for next to no gain,” Lagrone said.

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Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.

“It’s explicit in this contract that facial recognition will not be used,” Woodfin said, “[If] facial recognition wants to be used in the future of this city. It would have to be approved by this body. … The mayor’s office or the police department doesn’t have unilateral power to use facial recognition. That is not part of what our contractual relationship is with Motorola.”

Woodfin also clarified that the total $1.3 million price of the contract will not be paid as a lump sum but spread out over the five-year commitment.

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The city council voted 8 to 1 to approve the contract, with District 8 Councilman Steven Hoyt speaking in favor of the use of facial recognition capabilities.

“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to build a house but I’m not going to use the restroom,’” Hoyt said. “If it’s in the house, you’re going to use the restroom. … If it has the capability of facial recognition, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to use it. I’m going to vote for it because I know we’ve got to have every tool we can garner to fight crime, because it’s out of hand.”

Hoyt also suggested a review of the information collected by the new system apparatus.

“I do think, for the public’s sake, we need to have some way we review that and see how it’s being used,” Hoyt said. “We need that to go along with this.”

District 3 Councilwoman Valerie A. Abbott — who said she was the victim of a burglary the day before the vote — echoed the mayor’s insistence that the facial recognition capabilities would not be deployed unless authorized by the city council, reading a letter from Motorola stating “in order to enable facial recognition, Motorola will require an addendum or change order to the contract,” which would have to come before a public meeting of the city council.

“I too would not want facial recognition,” Abbot said, “I’m voting in favor of this because the majority of my constituents are telling me they want more and better policing, capture of criminals, prevention of crime.”

District 5 Councilman Darrell O’Quinn was the lone no vote among the near-unanimous city council, stating that he had “some reservations about how we’re doing this and will vote my conscience.” 
Later, O’Quinn was quoted in BirminghamWatch, saying his vote reflected his concerns about “taking on a new debt obligation in the midst of a projected $63 million shortfall in revenue.”

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Elections

Opinion | Doug Jones’s pathway to victory: Substance over lies

Jones said his work in the Senate should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity. 

Josh Moon

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Alabama Sen. Doug Jones speaks during the Democratic National Convention.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones believes voters will ultimately see through Tommy Tuberville’s lazy campaign and lies, and that enough of them will be moved by his work over the last two years to send him back to D.C. 

Jones’ comments came during a lengthy interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. He also discussed his plans to address some of Alabama’s most pressing issues and also praised Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.  

But it was Jones’ comments about Alabama voters — and whether too many of them are incapable of moving away from the Republican Party — that were most interesting. Jones still believes there are open-minded voters in the state, and that there isn’t enough attention being paid to polls showing a growing dissatisfaction in Alabama with President Donald Trump. 

“There are a number of things that Donald Trump has done that people (in Alabama) don’t agree with,” Jones said. “There are a number of things that he’s done that’s hurt Alabama and that they’re not OK with. That’s where I come in.”

Jones said his work in the Senate, where he’s sponsored the most bipartisan legislation over the last two years, should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity. 

“I tell everyone, you owe it to yourself to look at every candidate and every issue,” Jones said. “I do that. I’ve been a Democrat all my life but I don’t think that I have ever pulled a straight lever. Because I look at every issue. I will tell you that there have been times that I didn’t vote for people who are Democrats for whatever reason — I just couldn’t do it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.”

Jones had the perfect example to drive the point home. 

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“Y’all all know our state auditor, Jim Zeigler? Jim wasn’t always a Republican. Jim’s first runs for office were as a Democrat. 

“I rest my case.”

You can listen to the full interview at the Alabama Politics This Week website, or you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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