The following letter is from a prisoner at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama which has recently seen an inspiring act of rebellion that left two staff members stabbed and major fire damage to correctional facilities. Much of what really happened there is still unknown but this letter sent in late January might help illustrate some of the conditions in the Alabama prison system feeding the rage that we saw yesterday.
January 25, 2016
Dear [name withheld from online posting],
Thank you for writing. Let me begin by saying that the Free Alabama Movement and prisoners in the State of Alabama can use all the help and support we can get in our efforts to be released from this unjust system.
The entire Alabama criminal justice system is corrupt, from the police departments, to the prosecutors and judges, and the prisons. There is no justice here. These people are solely motivated to lock people up and throw away the key. That is the mentality here, and it is focused on black people and poor whites.
You may be aware that the Alabama prison systemn is severely overcrowded with approximately 30,000 inmates in a system designed for about 16,000 people. Now you would think the state government and the courts would do something to alleviated this unconstitutional situation, but all that they have done for the last 20-years is talk about it, with no real solutions to solve the problem.
The courts in this state are so corrupt that contrary to federal law, prisoners are routinely denied acfess to the courts unless they can pay a $260.00 filing fee to have their petitions heard. And the federal courts are going right along with this practice.
In addition, the Alabama courts also routinbely deny prisoners ‘due process of law’ in the court. That is, when we file petitions attacking our convictions and sentences the courts deny the petitions outright without affording us attorneys or hearings in court.
My case is a perfect example of what I am talking about. In 2005 I was convicted of trafficking cocaine and attempted murder of a police officer. In court hearings prior to me being indicted and tried, the individual who owned the drugs told the courts and prosecutors that I was a visitor at his home when the police came and executed a search warrant, and that the drugs were not mine.
The police also stated that the drugs did not belong to me and that they were after the owner of the residence because they had reason to believe that he was trafficking drugs based upon a confidential informant. The police also stated that they did not see me with a gun and were not accusing me of attempted murder.
Never-the-less, the prosecutors and the judges ignored this testimony and decided to prosecute me anyway. Simply because I was there. I have all of this information in my transcripts.
My case is one of thousands, where an individual has been wrongfully convicted. Having said that, I am of the opinion that if the Alabama courts afforded criminal defendants due process and equal protection of the law, then the Alabama prison system would not be overcrowded.
The next issue is the prisons themselves. The Alabama prisons are basically falling down. I am at Holman prison and the living conditions are deplorable to say the least. In the winter there is no heat, you get warm the best way you can by putting on as many clothes as possible. The food is unfit for human consumption for the most part and if you don’t have money to feed yourself, you are just shit-out-of-luck.
There are many things that I could go on about, but these are just some of the things that we are going through here in Alabama. I cannot speak for everyone but we need all the help we can get whether it is through social media or actual protest to the legislature in Montgomery.
You also mentioned that you could help with reading material. If you don’t mind could you provide me with a catalog or list of books that you have available.
I appreciate your time and consideration in trying to provide assistance to the prisoners of Alabama. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
[name withheld from online posting]