MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama prison system is facing a hearing after not meeting the requirements in a court order for more mental health staffing in correction facilities.
The U.S. District Court of Middle Alabama ruled in 2017 that mental health care in Alabama prisons was lacking and violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Alabama Department of Corrections was ordered to increase its mental health care staffing, with deadlines set in May, June and July.
ADOC did not meet those deadlines, and during the hearing will argue why it should not be held in contempt of court as a result.
ADOC listed three reasons for why it shouldn't be held in contempt:
- The state and the new prison health care contractor - Wexford Health Sources Inc. - have made all “reasonable and extensive” efforts to fulfill the order and is demonstrating tremendous progress
- It is impossible for the state to employ the required mental health workers at all times due to employment realities such as officer salary
- Being in contempt of court requires the state intentionally refused to comply with the order, but they have been working to meet all the requirements