PRISON IMAGES 1

An undated handout image shows knives made by prisoners at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville. More than 2,000 photographs that evidence suggests were taken inside the correctional facility in Alabama raise the question: would we fix our prisons if we could see what happens inside them? (Handout via The New York Times) 

The crisis that's overwhelming Alabama's state prisons is likely the most important topic in our state today. Federal intervention is probable unless the state meets the feds' deadline for improvements in reducing violence and overcrowding. 

And the rest of the nation is watching.

An example: Oklahoma is facing similar issues with its state prisons, though they're not as severe as ours. Oklahoma's prisons are 112 percent over capacity and need additional funding and more corrections officers. State government is locked in an argument over how to proceed.

This week, the editorial board of The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City wrote this:

Department of Corrections chief Joe "Allbaugh points to Alabama as an example of what might happen here. Following an investigation into that state’s prisons, the Justice Department recently informed Alabama officials that it believes inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights were being violated. It cited prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse, violations 'exacerbated by serious deficiencies in staffing and supervision and overcrowding.'"

In other words, don't be like Alabama, which has become a national euphemism for prison mismanagement, violence and overcrowding.

-- Phillip Tutor

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