A former corrections officer at Alabama’s largest prison who resigned after 13.5 years with the Alabama Department of Corrections has compared state prisons to a developing country and believes the U.S. department Justice should intervene.
Stacy George, who resigned from her job as a guard at Limestone Correctional Institution on October 26, ADOC confirmed, said quitting her job was the hardest thing he had ever done.
“I felt less of a man that day because I knew they needed me there,” George said late Friday morning, standing outside ADOC headquarters in Montgomery. He said he quit after complications from an injury he suffered on the job prevented him from performing his duties.
George, who ran for governor of Alabama as a Republican in 2014 and 2022, chose to speak to activists, relatives of incarcerated people and members of the media because he “wanted the public to know everything.” “.
“I did this today because I’m a human being,” George said.
George described a prison system plagued by violence, drug abuse and indignity. Prisons are so understaffed that incarcerated people are in charge rather than officers, he said.
“The Alabama Department of Corrections doesn’t control any prisons in Alabama, and they haven’t for a long time,” George said.
Limestone was so understaffed that assaults could go unnoticed for long periods, he said.
“There could be someone bleeding to death in a cell and you might not know it for hours,” he said.
He estimated that nine corrections officers would show up for a typical shift at Limestone towards the end of his career. In full, he said, there should be about 35 correctional officers in the jail. More than 2,200 people are incarcerated in Limestone, according to ADOC’s August monthly report.
George said prison staff are incredibly overworked and unable to handle the challenges of the prison population despite being mandated to work 36 overtime hours every month.
Security measures began during the last months of his term. In the past three months he said prison staff were no longer checked for contraband upon entering Limestone Correctional Institution.
“[Correctional officers] could have brought a gun,” George said, adding that he knew officers were helping bring drugs to the jail. A former corrections officer at Donaldson Correctional Facility pleaded guilty in federal court this week to running a scheme to deliver illegal drugs and cell phones to the prison. “…Most people don’t bring guns, but they might.”
George said that when he arrived at work, his supervisors looked “like zombies” after the previous shift. George, who usually looked after people living in separate or isolated accommodation, said one of the first things he would do on his shift was to give the men the option of taking showers – if they could find soap.
“‘We’re counting on you to give us a shower,'” he recalled of the men saying. Tears started welling up in her eyes. ” Do you see what I’m talking about ? They rely on me for a basic human right.
As he walked across the floor checking people, someone could have a noose around their neck or hold a razor blade and threaten to harm themselves.
Because the prison was understaffed, George said he sometimes had to decide whether to respond to a suicidal person or someone else who had been assaulted or was suffering from a medical emergency.
“Alabama prisons are like a third world country with concrete floors instead of dirt,” he said.
George suggested several ways to reform the prison system, including life sentences without parole and changing the state parole process to grant parole to more eligible inmates. Alabama’s prison population included an overhaul of the Alabama Office of Pardons and Parole in a list of demands made to ADOC during a three-week strike that ended in October.
George hopes Governor Kay Ivey and ADOC Commissioner John Hamm will listen to him and others and realize that the plan to build two new prisons, which George has denounced, will not solve the problems already present in the prison system, he said.
Evan Mealins is the Montgomery Advertiser’s forensic reporter. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanMealins.
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