All inmate workers in Alabama prisons have returned to work after ending their strike on Monday, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC).
The inmate worker strike began on September 26 following prison reform organization Both Sides of the Wall's call for prisoners to stop working.
Reports said around 80 members of Both Sides of the Wall held a rally outside the ADOC office in Montgomery last Monday morning to call for prison reform. The group included family members of inmates as well as former inmates.
When the strike started, the prisoners provided ADOC with a list of demands, such as guaranteed parole and the elimination of life without parole. Many of the demands would require action by the Alabama Legislature, which is not currently in session.
ADOC said in a press release on October 3 that most Alabama prisons had a partial return of inmate workers, which resulted in the restoration of regular meal services.
In another press release on Monday, ADOC said all inmate worker stoppages were over, and each prison has returned to normal operations.
“These three weeks have been very challenging for the staff at ADOC, and I am very proud of the way they have risen to that challenge,” said ADOC commissioner John Hamm. “The daily operations of the state’s correctional facilities involve many moving pieces, and it takes a huge effort under the best circumstances to ensure those pieces work together smoothly. I want to commend every member of ADOC staff for going above and beyond to make sure all critical services were maintained.”
This isn't the first time the Alabama prison system has been the center of controversy. In 2020, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Alabama concerning poor prison sanitation, violence between inmates and excessive force from staff, and sexual assault.
The lawsuit resulted from a multi-year investigation conducted by the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Alabama.
In October 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation authorizing ADOC to build two new 4,000-bed mega prisons to address the issues. Though the plan faced political and economic obstacles, it secured a $509 million bond deal in July.
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