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Families speak about horrors in Alabama prisons at oversight meeting

Nearly every speaker discussed the dangerous conditions in ADOC prisons, including abuse, murder and corruption.

Hands of the prisoner on a steel lattice close up

Many families shared their experiences with lawmakers, detailing the treatment of their incarcerated loved ones by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC).

The public comment during the meeting lasted nearly two hours, with over a dozen people speaking. Nearly every speaker discussed the dangerous conditions in ADOC prisons, including abuse, murder, and corruption by correctional officers, callous treatment by wardens, and a lack of accountability.

ADOC Commissioner Jon Hamm was notably absent from the prison oversight committee meeting.

Carla Crowder, Executive Director of Alabama Appleseed, opened the meeting. She discussed the death of Daniel Williams, a man who was raped and kidnapped for about two days before being hospitalized and dying just days before his parole. Crowder blamed ADOC’s negligence, pointing out that the suspect in Williams’ abuse had a history of sexual assault, stabbings, and rape since 2017 but was never disciplined.

Crowder also noted Alabama’s incarceration mortality rate is five times the national average, with over 200 deaths in the state’s prisons in the last fiscal year.

Cindy Hamilton, tearfully recounting her son’s ordeal, spoke of his “physical and mental torture” over four years. She criticized the systemic issues, including the prevalence of drugs like fentanyl.

Kevin Hyatt spoke about his nephew, Christopher Latham, who died after being beaten by another inmate. He criticized ADOC’s classification system and opposed the idea of building a new billion-dollar prison as a solution.

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Lauren Faraino, a lawyer, discussed a new lawsuit alleging ADOC’s involvement in modern-day slavery through forced labor. She is also involved in the case of Brandon Dotson, whose decomposing body was returned to his family missing a heart.

Allison Mollman, Interim Legal Director for the ACLU of Alabama, warned of the dangers of using nitrogen hypoxia for executions, citing a 2021 incident in Georgia as an example of its lethality.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, emphasized the paradox of denying parole to lower-risk individuals more frequently than to higher-risk ones.

A rally for transparency and accountability from ADOC was held before the meeting.

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

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