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Incarcerated man dies at Bibb prison on Independence Day

The DOJ in a lawsuit states the Alabama Department of Corrections has failed to keep prisoners safe from violence and drugs.

Dramatic clouds behind barbed wire fence on a prison wall STOCK

A man serving at Bibb Correctional Facility died on July 4, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed to APR on Tuesday, becoming at least the second person to die in an Alabama prison in so many days. 

John Gordon, 42, was found unresponsive by prison staff, ADOC spokeswoman Kristi Simpson said in a message to APR

“Unfortunately, all attempts at lifesaving measures were unsuccessful, and he subsequently was pronounced deceased,” Simpson said.

Gordon’s cause of death is pending a full autopsy, and foul play is not suspected, Simpson said. She did not comment on APR‘s question as to whether ADOC believes the death may have been the result of a drug overdose. 

Jason Matthew Kirkland, 27, was pronounced dead on Monday at William Donaldson Correctional Facility, according to AL.com, which quoted Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates as saying there were no immediate signs of foul play and that an autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday. 

Larry Brown, who was serving at Bullock Prison, on May 5 became the fourth person incarcerated in Alabama to die that month, following an assault by another incarcerated man, according to The Montgomery Advertiser

The U.S Department of Justice is suing the state and ADOC over what the federal government says are systemic and rampant problems with violence, excessive deaths, drug abuse and corruption in Alabama’s prisons for men. 

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The DOJ filed an amended complaint in May that states ADOC and its leadership continue to fail to protect incarcerated men from physical and sexual violence and death, despite years of warnings from the federal government. 

The DOJ in the amended complaint describes the pattern of violence in Alabama’s prisons for men as “pervasive and systemic” and explains the state has failed to address the deep-seated problems since being notified in 2019. 

The amended complaint also states that ADOC hasn’t been able to control contraband, which is resulting in mounting overdose deaths.

ADOC also fails to accurately report overdose deaths as such, sometimes referring to them as “natural causes” in reports, the DOJ notes in the complaint, and the drugs continue to enter prisons despite no visits amid COVID-19 precautions. 

“Although ADOC has not allowed visitors into Alabama’s Prisons for Men since March 2020 pursuant to COVID-19 restrictions, prisoners continue to have easy access to drugs and other illegal contraband,” the complaint reads.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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