MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into conditions within Alabama’s troubled prison system.
The department announced the investigation Thursday that will focus on safety in men’s prisons and whether inmates are protected from physical harm and abuse.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a statement that the U.S. Constitution requires humane conditions for prisoners.
“We hope to work cooperatively with the state of Alabama in conducting our own inquiry and ensuring that the state’s facilities keep prisoners safe from harm,” Gupta said in a press release.
Alabama’s prison system has come under criticism for crowding and recent outbreaks of violence.
U.S. Attorney George Beck Jr. from the Middle District of Alabama said in a press release, “the vulnerability of a prisoner makes it even more important that basic hygiene and safe accommodations are afforded the inmates.”
“All citizens, even those who are incarcerated, should expect sanitary conditions of habitation that are free of physical harm and sexual abuse,” said Kenyen Brown, a U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of Alabama.
State prisons house nearly twice the number of inmates they were originally designed to hold. A corrections officer died last month after being stabbed by an inmate at a prison that has been the site of two uprisings.
Alabama last year agreed to make changes at its only prison for women after a similar investigation there.