ADOC commissioner says Tutwiler ‘safer, healthier’

Published 10:01am Monday, September 2, 2013

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas said Tutwiler Prison for Women is a “safer and healthier facility” during Tuesday’s Joint Legislative Prison Committee meeting in Montgomery.
Thomas gave the members of the committee an update on the progress made in the last seven months after he made public the report from the National Institute of Corrections in January — almost two months after it was released to ADOC.
In the committee meeting Thomas distributed a 58-point list of areas which he felt needed to be addressed at Tutwiler, which was characterized as being “a repressive and intimidating environment” by inmates and corrections staff.
Much of the goals which were marked as achieved involved the training and education of corrections officers and staff about the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Prior to the report from the NIC, the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative suggested allegations of officer on inmate rapes.
Since the allegations surfaced and some were substantiated by prior court records of former staff pleading guilty to custodial sexual misconduct, the Department of Justice began an investigation.
Thomas said the DOJ is continuing its investigation into the allegations at Tutwiler.
But no mention was made of the officer on inmate abuse which has been alleged at three men’s prisons inlcuding Elmore.
Thomas also noted ground will be broken at Tutwiler in September for a receiving area as well as a 24-bed infirmary.
There will also be four cells which will be specifically for inmates who are known to have contagious diseases.
Thomas said he wanted to spread the population out and give the inmates more leisure space, as called for by the report from the National Institute of Corrections.
Thomas also gave an update on new surveillance cameras which were called on by the NIC to be installed to replace those which were either broken or non-existent.
Thomas noted the $5 million appropriation DOC was given by the Legislature to hire at least 100 more correctional officers.
He said a retention and recruiting task force developed.
Thomas said the DOC has gone from a single person recruiter to a four-person recruiting division.

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