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Alabama prisoner found unresponsive, dies

Justin Maxwell, 31, was found unresponsive by prison staff on Feb. 10 and was pronounced dead.

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A man serving at Easterling Correctional Facility died on Feb. 10, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed to APR

Justin Maxwell, 31, was found unresponsive by prison staff and was pronounced dead, department spokeswoman Kristi Simpson wrote to APR in a response seeking confirmation of his death. 

 “His exact cause of death is pending a full autopsy; however, foul play is not suspected at this time,” Simpson said. 

Maxwell’s death follows the death of numerous men serving in Alabama’s understaffed, overpopulated prisons. 

APR received a tip about the death from another incarcerated person. The Alabama Department of Corrections doesn’t regularly release information on deaths inside state prisons unless a reporter learns of the death through other means and asks for confirmation. 

 A Dec. 17 report authored by investigative reporter Beth Shelburne for ACLU of Alabama Smart Justice noted that 2021 was a record year for preventable deaths inside Alabama’s prisons, with at least 37 incarcerated people dying from violence, suicide or suspected drug-related causes by that time. That figure has since risen by numerous deaths. In 2020 there were 25 such deaths, 27 in 2019 and 22 in 2018, Shelburne reported, bringing the total number of deaths from violence and drugs in a four-year period to at least 111. 

The U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing lawsuit against the state alleges Alabama fails to protect prisoners from violence, death, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and if the state fails to adequately respond to the federal government’s concerns, the suit could result in court-ordered federal oversight of Alabama’s prison system.

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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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