At Wednesday’s Alabama Joint Legislative Prison Committee hearing FAMM Director of State Policy Maria Goellner submitted written testimony calling Alabama’s prison conditions among the worst in the country and recommending two immediate actions to address the crisis. She encouraged lawmakers to visit state prisons and establish independent prison oversight to create greater transparency and accountability.
“Alabama’s prisons are at the peak of a crisis; murders, suicides, assaults, drugs, gangs, crumbling and understaffed facilities, little to medical or mental health care or rehabilitation – you name it, it’s rampant,” Goellner said. “It is no wonder that the Department of Corrections is so understaffed – the prisons are horrific for both staff and incarcerated people and families, taxpayers, and public safety are paying the price. Lawmakers should visit the state prisons regularly and commit to creating independent oversight in 2024.”
Last year FAMM commissioned a poll where 82% of Americans supported independent prison oversight. The U.S. Department of Justice sued the state and the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) for violating the U.S. Constitution’s Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the case is slated for trial in 2024. A recent ADOC report points to a surge in violence inside the state prisons.
For more than three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a fairer and more effective justice system. FAMM has led the fight to reform extreme mandatory sentencing laws and to promote rehabilitation and dignity for all people in prison, 94 percent of whom will return to our neighborhoods one day.