Tag Archive: Alabama

‘Frequent and severe’ sexual violence alleged at women’s prison in Alabama

By Elizabeth Chuck, msnbc.com

Sexual misconduct by male correctional staff toward inmates at Alabama’s Tutwiler Prison for Women is “commonplace” and has resulted in numerous women becoming pregnant while incarcerated, a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice alleges.

Equal Justice Initiative, a private nonprofit organization, filed the complaint about the all-female prison in Wetumpka, Ala., Tuesday after receiving dozens of claims of sexual misconduct involving male staff between 2004 and 2011.

In interviews with more than 50 women incarcerated at the prison, EJI said it discovered “frequent and severe officer-on-inmate sexual violence,” ranging from women being coerced into performing sexual favors in exchange for contraband goods to rape by a male correctional staff member while another male officer served as a lookout. (more…)

The State As “Collective Slavemaster:” Criminalizing Black People After Emancipation

From Prison Culture

As I begin to think about pulling together an exhibition about confinement and captivity in black life, I am re-reading several books and articles about slavery and emancipation.

In Alabama, even before the Civil War, prisoners were responsible for their own court and incarceration costs at the county level. After the Civil War, this continued with one day in prison costing thirty cents. If prisoners could not pay, they served extra time and labored to pay the fees. While Alabama state prisoners had always worked, the state had never made a profit off their labor. This changed in 1875 when the state began to lease out prisoners for their labor to coal mines and to railroad companies. This money was essential to Alabama as the state was broke in the 1870s and prisoner labor helped to fill its coffers.

Alabama like many other Southern states desperately needed laborers for the lease system to work and they used the criminal code as a tool of racial discrimination. One cannot understand the racial subordination of black people post Emancipation without also exploring its links to the need in the south for a cheap and stable labor supply. Adolph Reed (1996) has described the state post-Emancipation as a “collective slavemaster.” This is an important insight that underscores the link between slavery and the continued criminalization of black bodies. (more…)

Ex Libris: a film about the Internationalist Prison Books Collective

One of our collective members made this 10 minute documentary on our group and we wanted to share it with all of y’all. Enjoy!

From the Description:

Ex Libris is a Latin phrase meaning “from the library of…” It is intended to be followed by someone’s name or the name of the library to which the book belongs. But standing alone, “Ex Libris” expresses the potential for literature to be nomadic, to shift between owners and for the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective, the physical exchange of books between those both inside and outside prison walls also means the sharing of a greater vision.

The people you will see featured are some of the group’s core and equal members who are supported by a rotating door of volunteers.

The Collective formed five years ago to send books to prisoners in Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina. This piece is a small sketch of what the Collective does and how it operates. It does not and cannot unfold the story of the prison industrial complex although the collective’s work is an effort against the PIC. For that reason, this video focuses on what these volunteers do and how much work is put into the project. The reasons why they do it are for you to research and explore.