Ala. DOC releases 3-year plan for prison system

The plan sets goals for staffing, infrastructure, programs and culture that the ADOC says can transform the system


Mike Cason
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

MONTGOMERY, Ala. —The Alabama Department of Corrections today released a plan for change in a prison system plagued by violence, crowding, and understaffing, and facing federal intervention.

The release of the “Strategic Plan 2019-2022” comes as the ADOC, the Gov. Kay Ivey administration and the Legislature work to respond to an April 2 report from the Department of Justice that alleged conditions in men’s prisons violate the Constitution.

Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The report said the DOJ could sue the state in federal court after a 49-day notification period that ended Tuesday if the state failed to adequately respond. Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said in a statement Tuesday that the DOJ was encouraged by the state’s response so far.

The ADOC is also embroiled in a five-year-old federal lawsuit over health care for inmates. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled in 2017 that mental health care was "horrendously inadequate."

The Strategic Plan released today sets goals for staffing, infrastructure, programs and culture that the ADOC says can transform the troubled system.

“The goal is for the ADOC to be a professional organization where recidivism is reduced through effective inmate rehabilitation, and where motivated employees with a sense of belonging and camaraderie up and down the chain of command are working in fully staffed, new and/or improved facilities,” the plan says.

The plan is not all new. It includes initiatives for hiring and keeping more staff and replacing and consolidating prisons that the ADOC has previously announced, as well as healthcare staffing standards like those ordered by the court in the federal lawsuit.

Staffing

The ADOC has one-third the number of correctional officers needed and is under a federal court order to add 2,000 officers over the next few years.

The Strategic Plan lists several “key performance indicators” for staffing, including maintaining correctional officer staffing of 85 percent or more by the end of 2021.

The plan says it will achieve the goals by streamlining hiring; seeking legislative approval for increased pay and recruiting and retention bonuses; expanding training and leadership development; reducing mandatory overtime; and expanding education discounts and tuition assistance.

The plan calls for a fully staffed healthcare and recidivism programming workforce. It calls for development of partnerships with universities in healthcare, behavioral, and social sciences educational programs.

Infrastructure

The plans calls for the design, development and construction of regional correctional complexes. The Ivey administration has previously said it is pursuing plans to build three men’s prisons housing 3,000 or more inmates, with one of the three for inmates with special health needs.

The plan calls for appointment of a consolidation committee to identify which prisons should be re-purposed. It calls for meetings with local civil leaders to gain acceptance for the plans setting a timeline to move inmates and reassign staff.

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Programming

Develop evidence-based rehabilitation programs with goals that include reducing incidents of misconduct by 10 percent a year and reducing recidivism by 3 percent.

  • Gain approval to hire the necessary staff for the programs and train the staff on the program goals.
  • Designate office and classroom space for the program, modifying facilities as needed.
  • Develop quality assurance programs to track effectiveness of the programs.

Culture

  • Improve the working environment at the ADOC.
  • Develop and implement a strategic communication plan and a holistic leadership development program.
  • Develop a staff wellness program.

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©2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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