Families of incarcerated loved ones share concerns of Alabama prisons

Local News
Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Family members of incarcerated Alabamians are speaking out about recent reports of inmate death; some died of natural causes, others of inmate violence.

But the deaths aren’t the only concerns they have. They say conditions of the prisons are horrible and believe no one should go through that.

“It’s horrible. It’s not just scary. It actually makes you mad,” a woman told CBS 42.

One woman didn’t want to be identified when speaking to CBS 42. She says not only are the conditions and violence bad, but the food is inedible.

“First and foremost, the food is horrible,” the woman said.

“She says most of it is not good to eat,” another woman by the name of Connie said.

Connie says her loved one in jail would describe the food as more than awful.

“She says some of it tastes so bad, she can’t eat,” Connie said.

And someone who understands what families with incarcerated loved ones are going through, Miss USA of 2020 Asya Branch responded.

“It was terrifying to have that constant thought and know that that’s the reality of it,” Branch said.

Branch said her father served ten years in prison in Mississippi. She spoke to families and children Thursday at the Church at Brook Hills Student Center with Prison Fellowship, a nonprofit that helps those affected by crime and incarceration and to see lives and communities restored in and out of prison. She shared her experiences during that time with them.

“Cause I said I don’t know if the last time I visit my dad is going to be the last time I get to see him,” Branch said.

And after all the horrible stories families have heard daily, they are concerned for the safety of the incarcerated.

“You know, she tells me just about everything that goes on. More than I want to know sometimes,” Connie said.

“The more attention it gets, the better it can be handled later on,” a woman said.

CBS 42 reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections in September when there were several reports of inmate deaths in a span of days. A spokesperson sent this statement:

As the Chief Deputy Coroner for Jefferson County noted in the story: “At this time, we don’t see a significant increase (in deaths) compared to this time last year or the previous years. The types of death we are experiencing seem to be what we’ve had in the past, which seems to be natural diseases. Our inmate population continues to grow both older and sicker. We take all appropriate measures to care for them. While unfortunate, deaths due to natural causes and disease do occur.

CBS 42 is still waiting for a comment about families’ claims of the prisons being in bad shape.

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