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ADOC hiring for new position to review use-of-force incidents

Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 6:46 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner provided an update on their efforts to stop the violence inside the state’s prisons, as prison deaths by assault continue to rise.

ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said they have been hiring for third-party positions to investigate use-of-force incidents. Back in August, Dunn announced the new position to help keep leaders accountable.

“We’re making really good headway to creating a much more objective and kind of third-party look at how we do use of force in our institutions,” Dunn said. “We continue to fill them and as we fill them, they will be deployed across the state.”

ADOC also has a task force to address excessive use of force.

Katie Glenn with the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund said the advocacy community is disappointed because they believe there is a lack of representation on the task force.

“Time after time, when there are crises inside of Alabama’s prisons, there’s the creation of a new task force or a new position to address whatever the issue is,” Glenn said.

Glenn wants people who are currently or formerly incarcerated, as well as family members to be on the task force.

“We’re not getting the full story,” Glenn said. “And so until those people’s voices are part of the conversation, it’s really just half of what we should be considering when it comes to making policies.”

ADOC also put thermal cameras throughout the prisons with the CARES Act money from the federal government for COVID-19 related expenses. However, Dunn said they are also using that technology to monitor illegal situations inside the prisons.

“While those technologies are going to help us fight the disease to keep people separated, it’s also going to help us with finding or preventing contraband from getting in being able to have video surveillance in our common area,” Dunn said.

Dunn doubled down on his belief that more correctional staff and better facilities will stop the violence.

“Our facilities are just not set up to provide this type of safe, secure, humane environment that we want to provide and we’re working very hard on both those fronts and are optimistic that we’re going to get there,” Dunn said.

The governor has put her support behind building three new regional prisons and closing several of the men’s prisons. The plan has faced criticism from advocates who say there are systemic problems within ADOC.

Back in July, the Alabama Department of Corrections faced another blow from the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ’s recent report alleges excessive force is frequently used against inmates in the men’s prisons.

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