Gov. Bentley On Tutwiler Prison

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By Catalina Trivino

Reporter, Catalina Trivino, sits down with Governor Robert Bentley about changes that must be made at at Wetumpka's Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.

This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice expanded its investigation on allegations of sexual abuse and harassment between inmates and correctional officers.

About 700 female inmates live within Tutwiler Prison's walls -- a 190-percent occupancy rate. It's a sight Governor Robert Bentley saw when he recently visited the prison. And he says some of the prison's conditions are a concern.

"I did seek overcrowding. There were areas that we need fewer prisoners in the rooms, but we are working on that," Said Bentley.

Just as Bentley makes plans to renovate another building into cottage-like dormitories for inmates.

"Is money a problem?" Said Trivino.
    
"Sure, sure. Money is a problem. Money is a problem in anything like this. When you are at 190 percent occupancy rate, then obviously, we don't have enough room. But this year, we believe we are going to be able to put some money aside," Said Bentley.

It's is why the Governor's office is hiring a prison ombudsman. Bentley says senator Arthur Orr is adding in $250,000 into the state General Fund Budget for that.

"We'll look at having an independent individual hear the complaints so that people can feel more comfortable. It'll be outside of the department  of corrections, it'll actually be under my office, now I know that corrections is under my office, but it'll be a totally separate entity," Said Bentley.

Although details are limited on when the prison ombudsman will begin work.

The U.S. Department of Justice report released in January says the prison has failed to "protect women inmates from harm and violates the U.S. Constitution." But Bentley says he's not tolerating the abuse. And he has a message for inmates and their families...

"These are human beings. Their family members are important. I know they have committed crimes, I know they are being punished, I understand that. But they are human beings. And we need to treat human beings humanely and those in prison need to feel safe," Said Bentley.

As far as changes, Bentley says the prison does not need male correctional officers guarding women in the bathroom. He says more than 300 additional cameras will be installed by July. And his office is looking ito renovating another building to address Tutwiler's over-crowding problem.

 

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TG GREEN said on Monday, Mar 24 at 4:12 AM

I hope Alabama an the Women of the USA watch these changes an keep up with how humanely the inmates are treated in the coming future, because as Americans an exp. southerners we should make sure everyone is treated fairly without violating their human rights.

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