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ADOC allegedly denies to open tray doors for air ventilation

Tray holes are primarily meant to distribute food, but in sweltering heat, they are one of a few sources of ventilation.


On Wednesday, several sources told APR that the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility was refusing to open tray holes for incarcerated people making it even harder for them to breathe due to the heat and lack of air circulation in the cells. 

Loved ones of incarcerated individuals bombarded the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) facility with calls after they discovered what was allegedly occurring. One source said that the facility began hanging up on people who called and asked about the tray holes not being open. APR also called and asked about the facility refusing to open tray holes for incarcerated people.

The responding officer stated that the facility could not discuss “security matters,” and APR would have to call the Montgomery office. APR also asked for the name of the officer but they then hung up the phone without answering. APR attempted to call the Montgomery office but was unable to get anyone on the phone.

Tray holes are primarily meant to distribute food to incarcerated or allow officers to cuff them, however, in sweltering heat conditions with a lack of air conditioning they are one of the only sources of air ventilation. A 2019 article by the Montgomery Advertiser includes the perspective of an incarcerated individual who’s only reprieve from the heat was the food tray.

“Though prison officials say the cells are ventilated,” Melissa Brown wrote, “the [incarcerated individual] only felt a thin stream of air flow through the cell door’s slot for food trays as heat indexes in Alabama hovered in the 110 to 115 degree range.”

A source told APR that the food trays were eventually opened however, a senior officer ordered them closed again after the Wardens left. The officer suspected of ordering the tray holes to be closed again is Lt. Akeem Edmonds. 

A 2021 report from APR details over 4 incidents in which Edmonds was sued, charged or accused of assaulting different incarcerated people over multiple years. 

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The most recent alleged assault, that has been reported at least, involved Edmonds being arrested and charged with second-degree assault for beating an incarcerated person with a belt in 2021. The case was dismissed in November 2021 by prosecutor Robert Jones who said, “there just wasn’t enough evidence for us to meet our burden. 

Jones said this despite a grand jury indicting Edmonds based on the same evidence. Edmonds also had charges in another case dropped in connection to his alleged assault of a man at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in 2016.

However, in August of 2020, Edmonds reached a settlement agreement with a victim that Edmonds assaulted in a separate 2016 incident. The victim was already handcuffed to a bench and then Edmonds proceeded to pepper spray and beat him by, ““punching him in the face and upper body, with his fists.” 

Despite this history of lawsuits and charges Edmonds is still employed by ADOC, at one of the same facilities he allegedly beat someone. 

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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