MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An inmate died Tuesday after an apparent assault at Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed.
Tyrone Billups, 39, died from injuries sustained in an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault, a prison spokeswoman wrote in an email. The prison system said the death is under investigation.
The prison system did not release a cause of death, but prison activists wrote on social media that Billups was fatally stabbed. The prison system said more information will be available upon the conclusion of the investigation.
Billups was serving a 45-year sentence for first degree burglary, first degree possession of marijuana, bribing a witness and possession of controlled substances.
The fatality followed a spate of deaths in May in which three inmates were killed in one week in separate incidents at three different prisons. An inmate died after an apparent assault last month at Bullock Correctional Facility.
The Alabama Department of Corrections’ Law Enforcement Services Division currently has 13 other open investigations related to inmate deaths following an alleged inmate-on-inmate assault, a prison system spokeswoman said last week. She noted that the investigations can sometimes take several months.
“We acknowledge that incidences of violence unfortunately do occur in our correctional system, and we condemn all violent acts in the strongest possible terms. The Department does not tolerate violence, and those who commit them are held responsible for their actions,” Kristi Simpson, an interim spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Corrections, wrote in an email.
The U.S. Department of Justice last year sued Alabama over conditions in the state prisons, saying the state is failing to protect male inmates from inmate-on-inmate violence and excessive force at the hands of prison staff.
The lawsuit alleges that conditions in the prison system — which the Justice Department called one of the most understaffed and violent in the country — are so poor that they violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment and that state officials are “deliberately indifferent” to the problems. The state is disputing the Justice Department’s allegations.
Alabama lawmakers this year approved legislation to require the prison system to provide additional information in quarterly reports to the Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee, including information on staffing, officer retention and assaults.