The investigation was opened following an assessment by the National Institute of Corrections, which issued a report in November 2012 that cited rampant staff-on-prisoner sexual misconduct at the facility and retaliation against prisoners who reported the abuse. “Frequent and severe” sexual misconduct at Tutwiler had previously been described in a report released by the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, which asked the Department of Justice to investigate in May 2012.
“It’s an ongoing thing, a daily thing,” former Tutwiler prisoner Stefanie Hibbett stated at that time. “You see women raped and beaten, and nothing is ever done.”
“In my opinion, custodial sexual misconduct is the single-most egregious abuse of power, and we absolutely will not tolerate this type of behavior where it may exist,” said Alabama DOC Commissioner Kim Thomas. “As part of our efforts to improve conditions at Tutwiler, I asked for an outside, independent review of the facility. We have received that review, we are putting positive reforms in place, and those reforms will continue.”
According to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics released in May 2013, the Tutwiler prison was listed as a facility “with high rates of staff sexual misconduct,” with 6.8% of prisoner survey respondents reporting sexual abuse by staff members – almost three times the national average.
The Department of Justice’s investigation, initiated under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), remains pending.
Sources: www.correctionsone.com, www.wsfa.com, www.bjs.gov, www.cnn.com
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