What's Your Experience With Alabama's Prison System?
Alabama Media Group, which includes
AL.com, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times
and Press-Register in Mobile, and WBHM, an NPR
News station, are collaborating on a closer examination of the state's
and who is being held accountable.
Your participation will help guide and inform our reporting.
We invite you to share your story and help to shine a light on what's happening inside.
The United States locks up people at a higher rate than anywhere else in
the world. Some of the most overcrowded prisons are right here in Alabama. Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women is one of them. But some inmates there have access
to a unique state-funded program that offers academics and "life skills"
they'll need after release. The problem is, this J.F. Ingram State Technical College program, which could ease
overcrowding, is struggling for funds. WBHM's Dan Carsen has the story and a full-length interview with J.F. Ingram's president.
Alabama's J.F. Ingram State may be the nation's only state-run two-year
college exclusively for inmates. Its mission is to reduce recidivism by offering "three
legs of the stool": academics, life skills, and vocational training. WBHM's Dan Carsen recently visited Ingram's Deatsville campus, where he met Timothy Brown, a 53-year-old convicted robber and burglar serving a life sentence but hoping for parole. Brown had walked over from the Frank Lee minimum-security facility next door. He'd been passing around organic cantaloupe and filling
in for his horticulture teacher. Dan starts the interview by asking Brown if doing the latter makes him
When a loved one is incarcerated, it can have a profound impact on their family members on the outside.
These families are lifelines to the inmate. From sending money to traveling long distances to visit the inmates, it's work to provide that kind of financial and emotional care.
We explore those challenges as part of WBHM's continued coverage of Alabama's prison system. WBHM's Sarah Delia has the story of one mother who has made countless sacrifices to keep her family afloat in order to support her incarcerated son.
While incarcerated women have characteristics that are similar to their male counterparts, a closer look reveals another story. Studies have shown that the majority of incarcerated women were victims of verbal, physical or sexual abuse before coming to prison. Les Lovoy reports how abuse in prison can re-traumatize women and the challenge for them to break the cycle of abuse, once they re-enter society.
For 10 years of her adult life, Jamie Faust was in and out of county jail and federal prison. In 2012 she entered Julia Tutwiler's Prison for Women as an HIV positive inmate. At the time, HIV inmates were segregated from the general population. She tells WBHM's Sarah Delia that living with HIV in prison wasn't easy, but the experience pushed her to follow a career path she might not have otherwise.
Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM hosted an "Issues & Ales" event concentrating on Alabama's Prison System on Tuesday, June 17 at WorkPlay. Listen for highlights from the event on WBHM at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 25. If you missed the event and the broadcast, listen here. This panel discussion focused on what Alabama residents want from the prison and criminal justice systems and how policy makers and communities can punish wrongdoing, rehabilitate offenders and, by extension, reduce crime in Alabama.
Throughout the week, WBHM is reporting on the hurdles ex-felons face once they're released from prison. One of the primary challenges they face is finding stable employment. In addition to the external struggles ex-felons face when looking for work, many also grapple with internal ones, like drug addiction or mental health issues. But, issues aside, ex-offenders need a job to provide for their basic needs, in addition to money required to pay court expenses and restitution.
The long path back to a normal life begins with whether or not an employer will give ex-offenders a chance. For WBHM News, Les Lovoy has more.
All this week, WBHM explores challenges people face after being released from Alabama's prisons. One barrier is a lack of skills. But some educators are working to smooth that transition even before the inmates get out: J.F. Ingram State Technical College has a new program at Tutwiler Prison that teaches vocations and life skills, including getting along with others, with the goal of reducing recidivism. WBHM's Dan Carsen sat in on those classes then spoke with a student -- an inmate named Robin. We agreed not to use last names, but Dan asked her about her plans once she's out ... and about why she's in.
J.F. Ingram Technical College is a
unique part of Alabama's two-year college system because all of its students are incarcerated. Last month, WBHM's Dan Carsen went to Ingram's campus at Tutwiler Prison. He was planning to do a story on Ingram's new life skills program there, but sometimes, plans change. He decided the best way to convey those classes was basically to let the tape roll ... which also
gives normally voiceless people a chance to be heard. You can hear them right now. Or click on the link above to hear them and see more photos.
Alabama's overcrowded prisons currently house more than 25,000 inmates. The vast majority - about 97% - will one day be released and return to the communities they left behind. After incarceration, former inmates face staggering challenges. All this week, WBHM's Life After Prison series will explore the stories of Alabama's recently released prisoners struggling to reintegrate into society. It's part of our investigation into the Alabama prison system, in partnership with al.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting. To start this series, WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley examines what stands between ex-offenders and a productive life outside of prison.
On Tuesday, June 17, WBHM hosted an Issues and Ales panel discussion focusing on the Alabama prison system. Over three panels, speakers covered the system's current problems with overcrowding, along with how to best rehabilitate offenders and what Alabama could do to improve the prison system. Panelists included Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas, State Senator Cam Ward, former inmates, and people who provide services to ex-offenders. WBHM's education reporter Dan Carsen and news director Rachel Osier Lindley moderated the discussion. They sat down after the event to discuss some of the highlights. The event was hosted in collaboration with the Alabama Media Group.
Issues within the Alabama prison system impact the culture and economy of Alabama, affecting thousands of lives across the state every day. What are the causes for concern? Who is responsible? Why does it matter to you? WBHM explored this topic at 'Issues and Ales: Alabama's Prison System,' hosted in collaboration with AL.com/The Alabama Media Group and The Center for Investigative Reporting. Hear a broadcast of highlights from Issues and Ales on Wednesday, June 25, from 2-3 pm.
It's been an eventful week for the Alabama Prison System. On Tuesday, Governor Robert Bentley announced initial plans for rebuilding the state's overburdened and underfunded prison system. Governor Bentley said Alabama would work in partnership with private agencies and the government to examine the prison system and suggest reforms. Bentley's announcement came on the same day the Southern Poverty Law Center released a highly critical report on medical care in Alabama prisons. For WBHM, Les Lovoy outlines the numerous challenges facing Alabama's prisons, and what the state is doing to solve the problems.
On Tuesday Governor Robert Bentley announced a plan to overhaul the state's severely overcrowded prison system. Also this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a detailed report highlighting medical care problems in Alabama's prisons. Plus, we take a look at wait times for Alabama veterans to receive medical attention. Kyle Whitmire of AL.com and the Birmingham News joins us.
For the last several months, WBHM has joined al.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting as part of the Alabama Media Group's investigative journalism lab. Together, we're taking a look at Alabama's prison problems. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice accused Alabama of failing to protect prisoners at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women from sexual abuse and harassment from male officers. To hear more on the issues and challenges facing the Tutwiler prison, Les Lovoy spoke with Kim Thomas, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner.
Alabama's prison system is currently under investigation by the Justice Department. If some big changes aren't made, the federal government could take over the prison system. We've heard a lot about the conditions inside Alabama prisons, but today we explore a different side: the state prison budget. One in every four dollars in Alabama's general fund budget goes to prisons. And that's growing. Al.com data reporter Alex Walsh joined WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley to talk about corrections spending.
J.F. Ingram State is a unique part of Alabama's two-year college system because one hundred percent of its students are incarcerated. Its new pilot program at Julia Tutwiler Prison focuses on life skills, not just vocational training. As part of our prison-reporting partnership with Alabama Media Group's Investigative Journalism Lab, WBHM's Dan Carsen spoke with Ingram State Counseling Coordinator Rick Vest outside Ingram's Tutwiler campus. Among other things, Vest says learning job skills isn't enough.
Alabama's prison system is under investigation by the Justice Department after a federal report detailed cases of rape and sexual abuse at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. If some big changes aren't made, the federal government could take over the prison system. State Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, is fighting that. He's a vocal advocate of prison reform and chairs the Alabama Legislature's joint oversight committee on prisons. Ward spoke with WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley about what he believes the legislature needs to do.
For the next several months, WBHM joins AL.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting as part of the Alabama Media Group's Investigative Journalism Lab. We're taking a closer look at Alabama's prison problems. Earlier this year, a Department of Justice report detailed cases of rape and sexual abuse at the Julia Tutwiler prison in Wetumpka. As part of their continued investigation of Alabama prisons, the Department of Justice is seeing if inmate medical care and mental health care are constitutionally adequate. AL.com reporter Brian Lawson has been looking into inmate health care, and he's heard some troubling stories for former inmates and their families. WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley sat down with Lawson to find out more.
For the next several months, WBHM joins al.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting as part of the Alabama Media Group's Investigative Journalism Lab. We're taking a closer look at Alabama's prison problems. As part of this project, al.com reporter Kelsey Stein has interviewed many former inmates of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. The prison gained national attention earlier this year after a Department of Justice report detailed cases of rape and sexual abuse at the prison.
WBHM, Alabama Media Group and the Center for Investigative Reporting are collaborating on a closer examination of the state's prison problems and who is being held accountable. We want to hear your experiences with the prison system.