13 inmates for every one CO: Staffing issues plague Ala. prison
Holman Correctional Facility currently employs 72 security staff of the 195 it needs to cover all shifts, Alabama Department of Corrections spokesperson Bob Horton said
By Melissa Brown
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama prison that is investigating a spate of assaults and one homicide this month has less than 40 percent of its required staff positions filled.
Holman Correctional Facility currently employs 72 security staff of the 195 it needs to cover all shifts, Alabama Department of Corrections spokesperson Bob Horton said last week.
Holman's 37 percent staffing level falls well below the state average, which sits at about 48 percent.
The understaffing is exacerbated by marked overcrowding in the prison. Holman was originally designed to hold about 581 men but is currently housing 951 inmates, an occupancy rate of about 164 percent.
The average occupancy rate for Alabama's maximum security prisons was about 141 percent in Sept. 2018, the most recent available data provided by the department.
Alabama prison officials have transferred more than 30 inmates from Holman after one man was killed and at least six others injured in a series of assaults earlier this month.
"There have been several recent incidents reported at Holman involving a fatal stabbing on Dec. 2, and several inmate assaults that required offsite medical treatment for non-life-threatening injuries," Horton said. "All inmates treated for injuries have returned to ADOC’s custody. There is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances that lead to, and resulted in the Dec. 2 homicide. ADOC is also investigating additional incidents that have been reported at the facility."
The Advertiser asked the department how it determined which inmates would be moved, and whether more inmates would be moved in the future. ADOC declined to answer, citing "security reasons."
Following the Dec. 2 homicide of Vaquerro Kinjuan Armstrong, ADOC said understaffing is exacerbating ongoing issues such as substance abuse and other "criminal activity" within prison walls.
Horton said this week that ADOC has "increased staffing in its Investigation and Intelligence Division in a move to mitigate inmate criminal activity and to prevent and eliminate corruption."
Multiple Alabama prison guards have been charged with or found guilty of promoting prison contraband and trafficking in illegal drugs in recent years. ADOC investigators have also made a number of arrests this month of civilians, including two women who were arrested Sunday during inmate visitations.
Jamila Kiarra Ware was arrested during a visit at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, where ADOC said she was found with "several packages wrapped in black tape that contained a controlled substance."
At Holman, 40-year-old Latonya Renee Presley was arrested after a K-9 unit found marijuana in her car.
In fiscal year 2018, which the Alabama Department of Corrections uses to report its data, seven people were killed and six died by suicide. Other deaths, which include natural causes and those where cause has yet to be determined, topped 120, according to ADOC's monthly reports.
Hundreds of others, both inmates and staff, were injured in assaults. More than 280 inmate-on-inmate assaults with serious injury occurred, while 12 inmate-on-staff assaults with serious injury occurred. Nearly 40 inmates attempted suicide.
Prison officials told The Associated Press in September that the department would need to hire 1,800 to 2,000 new employees to be effectively staffed, which would nearly double their current numbers.