Ala. legislators press commissioner for answers on Tutwiler sex abuse reports

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For the first time, Kim Thomas, Alabama's Corrections Commissioner, answered questions from lawmakers about Tutwiler Women's Prison, Tuesday.

A recent report confirmed sexual abuse and an overall dangerous environment at the women's prison, located in Wetumpka. Lawmakers pressed Commissioner Thomas about what led to the eye-opening report regarding the facility.

Thomas reiterated that changes are coming. "It'll make our facilities safer. Will it be 100 percent safe? I can't guarantee that," Thomas told legislators. "But I'll pledge to you my commitment to making sure that we will do everything that we possibly can."

A former inmate, Amanda Moore, who was recently released from Tutwiler, says the commissioner is naïve and says he doesn't know about additional sexual assaults and pregnancies at the prison

"He, I believe, is trying his best on what knowledge he does have, but as far as the propositions he's made, I believe that he is extremely uninformed as to what really takes place," Moore said.

Adding another element to all of the drama surrounding the Department of Corrections, Commissioner Thomas confirmed that there are several ongoing criminal investigations into former Tutwiler staff members.

Lawmakers say they want those responsible to be held accountable.

The commissioner said he will make an even bigger push for more money from the Legislature, to make needed facility improvements.

One state senator, Vivian Figures (D-Dist.33), said she wants reviews of all of the state's prisons similar to the one that was conducted at Tutwiler.

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