Brynn Anderson / AP
A federal judge in Montgomery is again hearing arguments about efforts to stop and wave on inmate suicides in Alabama's overcrowded and understaffed prison system
US District Judge Myron in the past 15 months.
The state's liability for those suicides and others has been the subject of a protracted legal battle dating back to June 2014. by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. Attorneys for Alabama said prison officials have a plan for reducing incoming suicides. Inputs' lawyers argued that the steady pace of suicides indicates that the state's proposed reforms need monitoring.
The trial is expected to last several days, according to the Associated Press.
"Prisoners with serious mental illnesses were routinely housed in solitary confinement and provided with little to no mental health care, "according to a case summary on the SPLC's website. "The Alabama Department of Corrections has the highest suicide rate in the nation, with most such deaths occurring in solitary confinement and solitary-like units. In ADOC prisons, there have been over 200 suicide attempts requiring hospitalization between the filing of the case and January 2019, and there have been 31 completed suicides. "
In June 2017, Judge Thompson ruled that Alabama's prison system had violated inmates' constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
In a 302-page ruling, Thompson found that Persistent staff shortages and chronic inmate overcrowding permeated the system. Among other systemic deficiencies, the judge found that the Alabama Department of Corrections:
- Failed to set up individualized treatment plans;
- Failed to provide
- "Simply put, ADOC's mental health"
- Placed seriously mentally ill at risk of suicide; -health care is horrendously inadequate, "Thompson concluded.
In an editorial, ADOC Commissioner Jefferson Dunn said overcrowding and understaffing are" two-headed monster "that hinders reform. He also said that Alabama will receive $ 800 million to build four new facilities.