Another man serving in prison in Alabama has died, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed for APR.
Charlene Winningham, 53, was found unresponsive on June 6 at Elmore Correctional Facility and was pronounced dead, an Alabama Department of Corrections spokeswoman said in a message. His exact cause of death is pending a full autopsy.
APR received a tip about the death. The department doesn’t typically release information on a prison death, and although the department has recently begun publishing quarterly reports that give somn about those deaths, the deceased aren’t named in the report, which are the product of legislation passed during the last session aimed at increasing transparency in state prisons.
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 respond to the federal government’s concerns adequately, the suit could result in court-ordered federal oversight of Alabama’s prison system.
Alabama’s prisons are overpopulated and understaffed, which is resulting in growing amounts of contraband and drugs, excessive violence and death, the federal government notes in the suit.
In February alone at Elmore prison, staff confiscated 34 grams of a “powder substance,” 62 grams of “drug soaked paper, 32,7 grams of “synthetic/spice/flakka” which is a particularly deadly substance that’s resulted in numerous overdose deaths in prisons, and 10 grams of “pills, suboxone strips,” according to the department’s latest quarterly report.