Between midnight and 1 AM on April 8th, a prison guard was stabbed inside Staton Correctional Facility in Alabama. There are reports that two stabbings occurred at Elmore CF, in unrelated cases.
The violence at Staton broke out when a guard violated the personal space of a prisoner by trying to take down his clothesline, verbally attacking him in the process. The inmate told the guard not to take down the clothesline, and a physical altercation ensued. Two inmates attempted to intervene to deescalate the situation but were unsuccessful. The officer was stabbed, after which point another officer started macing everyone in the area.
All 3 inmates involved in the situation are now in segregation units at Kilby Correctional Facility. The prison guard was transferred to a hospital in the free world.
This incident of violence is a direct result of the constant dangerous environment for both inmates and officers inside Alabama prisons–an environment that is created by the ADOC’s own policies and practices. As the recent DOJ investigation into the ADOC has revealed, routine instances of neglect, abuse, and violence have gone unaddressed for a long time. This creates a daily reality of extremely heightened tension, such that something as petty as a clothesline can and has escalated to a potentially lethal situation for ADOC’s own personnel.
This case also reveals wider issues about physical and mental health inside the ADOC. The clothesline that sparked the stabbing was up because prisoners don’t have access to effective laundry machines, so they are forced to do their own laundry by hand. Alabama’s prison laundry system is so inadequate that hand washing by inmates is the only way to keep their clothes hygienic. Physical and verbal attacks by guards and the chronic denial of access to basic hygienic needs are nothing new to prisoners in Alabama. All in all, this is yet another story in a continuous pattern of commissioner Jeff Dunn and governor Kay Ivey’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of both the prison staff and the inmates under their jurisdiction.