A riot broke out at the Holman Correctional Facility, Southern Alabama about 50 miles north of Mobile. The facility that has over 1,000 inmates is the only prison in Alabama that carries out executions with over 161 inmates presently on death row.
According to the Daily Mail, trouble started when a fight broke out in a dormitory between inmates, leading to one of the guards being stabbed as he tried to restore order. The warden, Carter Davenport, was also stabbed when he and other officers stormed the dormitory. A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections said their injuries are not serious.
— Doyle Global Media (@DoyleGlobal) March 12, 2016
According to Alabama Public Radio, prisoners are roaming the facility with their faces covered with white towels and starting random fires in the hallway outside the dormitory and posting videos online. Response teams have been deployed to quell the chaos and crack down on inmates with illegal phones and other contraband. A frantic mother, Zannice Houston said, referring to her son Jamario, “Please pray for my son in Holman Prison a riot Lord Jesus.”
— Michelle Holmes (@mlh_holmes) March 12, 2016
On Monday, an officer was stabbed at the St Clair Correctional Facility, again, trying to break up a fight between inmates. He was stabbed with a makeshift knife and is currently responding to treatment. The name of the assailant and officer were not released to the public, according to WBRC (Birmingham).
This was the second incident in a week, once again highlighting the troubled prison system of Alabama that has continuously come under criticism for being understaffed and overcrowded.
The wife of the stabbed correctional officer voiced concerns about her husband and officers working at the St. Clair Correctional Facility, according to WMC (Memphis) saying that two correctional officers were monitoring over 248 inmates when the fight broke out. She sent a letter to the Department of Corrections complaining about insufficient staffing and a failure to equip officers properly. Correctional officers are barred from speaking to the media but their spouses are exempted.
A correctional officer at the prison was outraged by the incident, saying the CERT team (Correctional Emergency Response Team) did not even bother to come to the prison after the incident occurred.
The Alabama Department of Corrections can deploy a CERT team to help regain control of a prison riot, help with investigations and neutralize threats to correctional officers once things spiral out of control. “They show the inmates, we’re still in charge, when they didn’t show up today, it’s like they don’t care about what’s happening. What’s it going to take to get help here?” he asked.
Senator Cam Ward has consistently advocated for prison reform in Alabama because the facilities hold twice the number of people they are meant to house. He says the violence in prisons is a consequential pattern of operating overcrowded prisons.
“You can’t continue to operate a system that is so overcrowded with so few officers in charge of security and expect there to be true public safety in our corrections system.” He put the blame squarely at the doorsteps of the system, warning that the officer-to-inmate ratio in Alabama was one of the highest in America.
The last riot at Holman occurred five years ago when prisoners momentarily took control of a dormitory after a dispute between an inmate and officer over a contraband cell phone, according to NorthEscambia.com.
A Correctional Emergency Response Team was deployed and regained control of the dormitory. A brief fracas ensued after some inmates refused to comply with directives given. But none of the injuries sustained were life-threatening, requiring anyone to be sent off-site for medical treatment.
[Image via Shutterstock/welcomia]