Alabama prison system stops publishing monthly death reports

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 5:13 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:09 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Corrections will no longer track the number of these deaths by month. In its October 2022 report, the first month of the 2023 fiscal year, the department noted, “All death statistics for inmates in ADOC custody are reported by month in the joint legislative prison oversight committee quarterly reports.”

Rep. Chris England-D, Tuscaloosa, is a member of the prison oversight committee.

“The story itself was a shock to me considering, like I said, how terrible things are within the department,” said England.

According to the September report, the department ended the fiscal year with 225 deaths.

Rep. England, a member of the prison oversight committee, says now is not the time for less transparency.

“We’re not getting the real-time updates. So, we don’t really know what’s currently going on in the system. And now we’re going to be much behind,” he said.

He wants to revisit the department’s reporting requirements.

“Maybe make them a little tighter and make them require them to report more often,” said England.

ADOC’s current quarterly reports are two quarters behind.

Rep. Matt Simpson-R is not on the prison committee but is confused by the delays.

“I believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant,” he said. “If you’re paying someone $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money to be a public information dissemination, then they should disseminate that information to the public.”

Simpson doesn’t know if the million-dollar contract between ADOC and a marketing firm was renewed for 2023. But, he says the public should be aware.

“There are people that are being held accountable for their actions. We just have a long way to go,” said Simpson.

In a statement from the Governor’s Office, communications director Gina Maiola released the following, “Commissioner John Hamm and the Alabama Department of Corrections are sharing all necessary information, but in a more accurate way. They are not withholding information, and the media should not misconstrue that here. Governor Ivey committed to the people of Alabama that her administration would be open, honest, and transparent, and she continues to make good on that promise.

ADOC said in an email to WSFA, they “decided to only post inmate death statistics on the quarterly reports because those numbers reflect the findings of closed investigations. However, monthly statistics are still available through the Public Information Office as requested.”

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