Coalition concerned about overcrowding issues after decision to close Holman prison

Updated: Jan. 30, 2020 at 7:27 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabamians for Fair Justice sent an open-letter expressing concerns for the Alabama Department of Corrections’s decision to close most of William. C. Holman Correctional facility.

The ADOC said Wednesday sewage, power and water systems required daily maintenance that eventually became dangerous for both inmates and staff.

“This is a real and serious issue that cannot be understated and, after learning the extent of the risks associated with continued maintenance attempts at Holman Correctional Facility, moving quickly on our plans to decommission was the right and only decision,” ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said in a statement Wednesday.

The coalition responded to the decision in an open letter, explaining concerns for the decision to move more than 600 inmates from Holman to other prisons. The relocation of inmates would add to the already overcrowded facilities.

“It will almost certainly lead to more violence and death,” the letter said.

“Now, of course, we don’t want people living in unsafe conditions with raw sewage. But they’ve taken one bad situation and created another one," said Carla Crowder, the executive director of Alabama Appleseed. “Our prisons that are violent, where people are unsafe, where people are assaulted and killed at some of the worst rates in the country are going to be more crowded and more unsafe.”

The letter said, for instance, Donaldson Correctional Facility is staffed at 35 percent with 137 percent occupancy.

ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Wednesday they are working to address the overcrowding issue. He said they are making security modifications to alleviate the effects of the influx of prisoners.

“So we seek to mitigate any of the pressure of moving these inmates to other facilities by bringing in the new staff as they come on board," he said.

Dunn said the closure was necessary to ensure safety.

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