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Two more incarcerated men in Alabama died this week

The federal government is suing Alabama alleging systemic problems of violence, death, drugs and corruption in prisons.

(STOCK)

Two more incarcerated men died in Alabama prisons this week, bringing July’s death toll in Alabama prisons to at least six, with four deaths occurring at Bibb Correctional Facility since July 4.  

Tyrone Billups, 39, died Monday following injuries after an apparent assault from another incarcerated person at Fountain Correctional Facility, ADOC spokeswoman Kristi Simpson said in a message to APR on Wednesday. Simpson said the death is being investigated by the department’s  Law Enforcement Services Division. 

The following day 49-year-old Joseph Lawrence was found unresponsive by prison staff at Bibb Correctional Facility, Simpson confirmed to APR. He was taken to the infirmary, where he was pronounced dead. No foul play is suspected and his death is also being investigated, she said. 

Lawrence’s death is at least the fourth death at Bibb prison since July 4, and in each, ADOC doesn’t suspect foul play. 

John Gordon, 42, was found unresponsive by prison staff at Bibb prison on July 4. His cause of death is pending a full autopsy, and foul play is not suspected, Simpson said. 

A man serving at Bibb prison told APR he believed Gordon overdosed on drugs. APR is not identifying the man to protect his safety. 

Jason Matthew Kirkland, 27, was pronounced dead on July 5, 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. 

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Tyrone Triplett, 52, died at Bibb prison on July 6, and Kevin Rush, 40, died at Bibb on July 8. Foul play isn’t suspected in either of those deaths, and full autopsies are pending. 

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. 

The DOJ’s complaint states that ADOC hasn’t been able to control contraband, which is resulting in mounting overdose deaths, despite no visits by outsiders being allowed in prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“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.

Asked whether ADOC has determined if the recent deaths at Bibb prison were the result of drug overdoses, Simpson said the investigations are ongoing. 

“LESD’s investigations into John Gordon’s, Tyrone Triplett’s, Kevin Rush’s, and Joseph Lawrence’s deaths are ongoing. Their exact cause of their death was/is pending the results of full autopsies,” Simpson said. “Autopsy results are one of many components/pieces of evidence reviewed during LESD’s investigative process.”

“Investigations often continue after the completion of an autopsy, and we do not comment on or speculate about open investigations – to include autopsy results and/or any preliminary findings – prior to their completion. The purpose of this is to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” Simpson said. 

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Larry Brown, who was serving at Bullock Prison, died on May 5, becoming at least the fourth person incarcerated in Alabama to die that month, following an assault by another incarcerated man on April 2, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.

Written By

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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