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Man serving at Ventress prison dies

Riley Henderson, 25, was found unresponsive on Feb. 5, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday.

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A 25-year-old man serving at Ventress Correctional Facility died on Feb. 5, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed to APR

Riley Henderson was found unresponsive by prison staff and was pronounced dead, department spokeswoman Kristi Simpson said in a response to APR on Wednesday. 

His cause of death is pending an autopsy but foul play is not suspected, Simpson wrote. 

Henderson’s death has been added to the growing tally of deaths inside Alabama prisons. 

Justin Maxwell, 31, was found unresponsive by prison staff at Easterling Correctional Facility and died on Feb. 10. 

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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The DOJ’s complaint also 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.

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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