DOJ sues Alabama Department of Corrections for constitutional violations
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DOJ sues Alabama Department of Corrections for constitutional violations

The US Department of Justice filed an amended legal complaint Wednesday against Alabama and its Department of Corrections for several alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

In its complaint, the Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of male prisoners by “failing to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse, by failing to protect prisoners from the use of excessive force by security staff, and by failing to provide safe conditions of confinement.”

According to the original complaint, filed in December 2020, as well as the amended version, the DOJ began investigating Alabama’s male prisons in 2016. In April 2019, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division notified Alabama state attorneys of the prisoner violence and sexual abuse violations. The Division also notified Alabama of the correctional officers’ frequent use of excessive force in July 2020.

The DOJ stated that Alabama “is deliberately indifferent to the serious and systemic constitutional problems present” in its state prisons for men and that “constitutional compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means.”

In a statement responding to the amended complaint, the ADOC stated that while it “was pleased to see the DOJ’s willingness to reconsider the scope of facilities covered” by the complaint, it was “disappointed” that the amended complaint did not “acknowledge the substantial investments and improvements made” by the state. The ADOC also criticized the DOJ’s use of anecdotal evidence.

Alabama has until June 16 to respond to the DOJ’s amended complaint.