MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - All laws are sacred and whether you are law-abiding or have broken the law, everyone deserves fair and humane treatment. So where is the outrage following the U.S. Justice Department's report on the cruel and unusual punishment being levied against female inmates for the past two decades at Tutwiler Prison for Women? Women made to do unspeakable things in order to receive basic necessities or treated as objects to satisfy the sick desires of the guards.
So why isn't our Governor shouting from the rooftops enraged about the disgusting nature of the findings? I'll tell you why; it's a political hot potato that no Governor has addressed and now it's taken the Federal Government to come in and tell us what was going on -- something we should have already known. The fact is Alabama has had a broken prison system for decades, one that is overcrowded and underfunded, with a culture (made public at Tutwiler) where some prison guards feel they are not obligated to follow the law and can treat human beings as objects.
The New York Times just put an international spotlight on Alabama with an article published over the weekend -- a spotlight not on those things our state's leaders would love Alabama to be known for, but on this dark topic.
Unfortunately, this spotlight may be the only way to get changes going -- putting heat on our Governor and legislators to correct this prison epidemic now … on their watch. No longer can this can be kicked down the road.
We call on our Governor and all state leaders holding office to have the political will to make the tough calls on how to address our floundering prison system. This should include additional oversight, increased funding (taxes on state lottery, gambling, etc) and revisiting sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders. None of these come as easy solutions. But that's okay -- we voted you into office to make the tough decisions. The spotlight is now firmly set on you to correct the problem and figure it out. We'll be watching.