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Alabama prisons see three more deaths

Two of the men died within hours of one another at Donaldson prison. Officials are awaiting autopsies.

St. Clair Correctional Facility near Springville, Alabama. Google Earth

Two men serving at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility died within three hours of one another on Wednesday, the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said in a statement. 

Calenes Jones, 42, was found unresponsive in the prison’s infirmary, where he was being treated for “significant natural disease,” chief deputy coroner Bill Yates said in the statement. An autopsy has been performed to determine the cause of death. 

Allen Dewitt Bibbs, 48, was found unresponsive in his two-person cell, Yates said. His cause of death also awaits an autopsy. 

A man serving at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville died last week, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed for APR

Keith Richards, 55, died at the prison, but a department spokeswoman said it’s not yet clear what caused his death, although it could have been health problems. 

While Richards’s exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, it appears that he passed away due to complications related to heart failure,” spokeswoman Kelly Betts wrote. 

These may be the latest in a string of deaths inside Alabama prisons, which are overcrowded and understaffed, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s  lawsuit against the state and the department, which alleges unconstitutional violations of the incarcerated’s right to protections from violence and sexual abuse.  

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Drug overdose deaths are a common occurrence in Alabama prisons. Those deaths continued even during the many months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when visitors to prisons weren’t allowed. 

Trey Norwood, 28, was found unresponsive by staff at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton on May 17 and was pronounced dead. His exact cause of death is pending an autopsy, but foul play is not suspected, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a message to APR

Earnest Charles McReynolds, 69, died on May 10 at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, the department said in the message. 

“While McReynolds’s exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, it appears that he passed away due to complications related to a terminal illness,” the message read. 

APR received a tip about the three deaths from other incarcerated people. 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.

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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