MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Protestors gathered outside of the Alabama Department of Corrections headquarters in Montgomery Monday to voice their concerns on the conditions inside prisons across the state.
Rally organizers have listed their demands to improve the conditions including parole reform and repeal of the habitual offender law which imposes longer prison sentences each time an offender commits a felony. Protestors say they attempted to give members inside ADOC the list of demands but were turned down. They say they plan to get in touch with Gov. Kay Ivey next.
ADOC has confirmed to CBS 42 that inmates inside prisons have also gone on a work strike “at all major correctional facilities in the state” in protest of conditions. Commissioner John Hamm says that despite the work stoppage, “all facilities are operational and there have been no disruption of critical service.”
Prisons in Alabama have been a major talking point for years after the US Department of Justice began an investigation into facilities back in 2016. Four years later, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against ADOC over the conditions saying inmates were being denied their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. ADOC later said the suit “fails on merit.”
Just last week, the family of Kastellio Vaughan, who is serving a 25-year sentence at the Elmore Correctional Facility, released disturbing photos of Vaughan looking emaciated and unable to sit up after having surgery in August and taken back to the prison. ADOC has refused to comment on Vaughan’s condition.
Protestors said during the Monday rally that the work stoppage inside the prisons will continue until the demands of the group are met.
A full list of demands from protestors can be found below:
- Repeal the Habitual Offender Law immediately
- Make the presumptive sentencing standards retroactive immediately
- Repeal the drive-by shooting statute
- Create a state-wide conviction integrity unit
- Mandatory parole criteria that will guarantee parole to all eligible persons who meet the criteria
- Streamlined review process for medical furloughs and review of elderly incarcerated individuals for immediate release
- Reduction of the 30-year minimum for juvenile offenders to no more than 15 years before they are eligible for parole
- Do away with life without parole
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Gov. Ivey released the following statement regarding the protests and the requests made.
“Governor Ivey is, first and foremost, committed to ensuring public safety, plain and simple. These “demands” – as the protestors refer to them – are unreasonable and would flat out not be welcomed in Alabama. It is also important for these protestors to understand that a lot of their demands would require legislation, not unilateral action. Some of these demands suggest that criminals like murderers and serial child sex offenders can walk the streets, and I can tell you that will never happen in the state of Alabama where we will always prioritize the safety of our citizens.Gina Maiola, Communications Director for the Office of Governor Kay Ivey
Governor Ivey appreciates the work of the correctional staff – the boots on the ground – who come to work each day to serve the people of Alabama by keeping our inmates and the public safe. Thanks to the Alabama Legislature, we can also look forward to the construction of new prison facilities that will create all around better conditions to live, work and rehabilitate. There has been no governor more focused on improving the state’s corrections system and bolstering public safety than Governor Ivey.”