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Alabama Work Release Prisoners Reclassified Following Escapes

In late September 2005, 275 minimum-security Alabama prisoners were moved from work camps to maximum-security prisons pursuant to an order by Governor Bob Riley. The prisoners had done nothing wrong. The move was purely reactionary following the escape of 3 prisoners in 4 months.
The escaped prisoners had all been convicted of murder. Carl Brad Ward was captured on September 29, 2005. As of October 4, 2005, two of the escapeesHerman Adkinson and Frank Buchanan Jr.--were still at large.

Wards escape drew the most criticism. He had been denied parole in April due to victim protests and wasnt to be reviewed again for 5 years. Prison policy dictates that Ward should have been housed inside the prison fence, but a special approval process allowed him to keep working at a state-owned warehouse outside the Elmore Correctional facility.

Following the public outcry, Riley ordered all prisoners convicted of murder, manslaughter, or criminaly negligent homicide back inside the prison fences. Jason Dudley, a 29-year-old prisoner who has spent most of his 10 years in prison at minimum-security work camps, was one of those affected by Rileys decision. A decade earlier Dudley had been drinking and driving recklessly when his friend was killed in a one car accident. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

After Rileys order Dudley was transferred first to the Bibb Correctional Facility--which houses 1,893 prisoners in space for 900 and then assigned to the Kilby Correctional Facility several days later.

Hes been in these honor camps now for 6, 7 years and they take him out in shackles and chains and take him to the high-security prison, said Dudleys sister, Kim Lake. He said [Bibb] is terrible. . . . Its a lot of the young gang-type people. Here you are on good behavior, and theyre going to put you in there with hard criminals.

Lakes brother had been transferred from the Farquhar Cattle Ranch, where, over the previous year, there were only six cases of prisoner discipline. By contrast, at Bibb there have been 1,143 disciplinary actions and 69 assaults.

Some experts question the wisdom of Rileys order. Generally what I know about classification is the nature of the offense is not the best way to tell you whos going to be a dangerous inmate or not, said Dr. Rick Kern, director of the Virginia Sentencing Commission. Better indicators are age, gang affiliation, and a history of committing assaults he said.
As Alabama struggles with prison overcrowding and under-funding, this move will only worsen those problems.

Source: The Birmingham News

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