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Opinion | The people of Alabama mostly don’t care that their prisons are awful


The majority of Alabamians don’t care about people in prison. 

Hell, they barely care about people outside of prison, judging from our statistics on infant mortality, premature deaths, overall health of the population and elder care. And those are people who didn’t commit a crime. 

So, I wish we’d stop the nonsense, put an end to the shows that are taking place in Montgomery, and just let everyone know the cold, hard truth: We could not possibly care less about prisoners, prison conditions, prison food or lack thereof, prison facilities or the number, pay or well being of prison guards. 

We. Do. Not. Care. 

I mean, we should. It’s deplorable that we don’t. It’s un-Godly and un-Christian and un-American that we don’t. 

But we have more than proven that we do not care. 

God bless the people who are trying to address this problem and trying desperately to force some changes on Alabama’s prisons. 

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But you’re wasting your time. 

The only hope a prisoner in Alabama has at this point is for the federal government to take over Alabama’s prisons and force the appropriate change. There’s no way that’s going to happen under Donald Trump’s administration. 

So, here we are — everyone playing this game where they pretend to be shocked and outraged and motivated to make changes due to the ongoing state of Alabama’s prisons, which currently boast the highest death rates in the nation. By a wide margin. 

The reality is, however, no one is shocked or outraged. There is certainly no one in a true leadership position who plans to make significant changes. And there is perpetually no money to do any of the meaningful things required to make our prisons better. 

Instead, there are committee meetings, like the meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Prison Reform held Wednesday in Montgomery. 

It was a great meeting, as far as committee meetings go. There were lots of compelling speeches given by the invited guests, almost all of whom have worked within an Alabama prison or have loved ones who died in one. 

It would have been more productive for them to scream at the sky. 

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Because the actual lawmakers who make meaningful decisions about such matters don’t care. There are two things that motivate an Alabama lawmaker: 1. Money. 2. The fear of losing an election and being forced to get a real job. 

Prisons achieve neither. 

There’s very little money for them to get their hands on and conservative voters mostly don’t care about the lives of prisoners. 

If you doubt this, you should have a really long, hard think about reality. 

Because the reality is this: Not a soul in the Alabama Legislature or the Alabama Governor’s Office or the Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office or almost any other state agency is unaware of the awful things happening in Alabama’s prisons. 

They know about the abuse. They know about the drugs smuggling. They know about the drug usage. They know about the beatings. They know about the rapes. They know about the murders. They know about the extortions. 

They knew that sheriffs were withholding food because the food money went into their pockets. They knew the inmates were being extorted for cash. They know that guards are sneaking contraband into the prisons. 

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All of those things were in recent reports from the TRUMP Department of Justice and in a report from the Equal Justice Initiative. A federal judge has well documented the shortcomings, as well. 

And these reports contain mostly the same information as similar reports completed years ago. 

Yet, has anyone lifted a finger to do anything?  


You know why? 

Because we don’t care about prisoners. 

The only reason we’re putting on the current show, with the meetings and special committees, is because the feds are talking about a takeover and maybe dictating what the state has to do in order to improve its prisons. 

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So now, everyone is super concerned with prison overcrowding and violence — again.  It’s a farce. 

The fact is the people of this state mostly don’t care that we’re treating thousands of people worse than shelter dogs. And there’s one simple indication that this is true: Alabama’s prisons. 

You don’t get prisons this awful, this harmful, this debilitating unless you truly don’t care about prisons or the people inside of them.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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