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State of Alabama asks judge to dismiss DOJ lawsuit over prison conditions

The State of Alabama on Wednesday filed a motion seeking to dismiss a lawsuit by the Department of Justice that alleges the conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men violate the U.S. Constitution’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Alabama argued the conditions mentioned in the DOJ’s lawsuit, filed in December of 2020, do not meet the standard of a constitutional violation. The conditions that led to the suit were detailed in a report released last July that relayed incidents of violence and death in Alabama’s prisons.

The attorney for Alabama acknowledged the incidents of violence listed by the DOJ “constitute serious allegations,” but maintained that the department “does not specifically allege that anyone associated with the state acted or failed to act in a manner that caused these alleged attacks.”

“In seeking to dismiss the case, Alabama argued that the existence of inmate-on-inmate violence does not automatically represent a constitutional violation,” summarized the Associated Press, which first reported the news of the filing.

“The Department of Justice conducted a thorough investigation of Alabama’s prisons for men and determined that Alabama violated and is continuing to violate the Constitution because its prisons are riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence,” stated then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband in December.

In past statements, Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall have pointed to Alabama’s plan to build three massive new prisons as evidence of the seriousness with which the state takes the conditions of its prisons.

Ivey signed the leases for two of the mega-facilities last month, with negotiations continuing on the third.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: [email protected] or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

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