Thousands of inmates in Alabama’s overcrowded prison system are receiving only two meals a day during a prisoner work stoppage that was in its fourth day Thursday, and the agency said weekend visitation also was being canceled (article available here).
While inmates and activists have accused the Department of Corrections of using pressure tactics in an attempt to end the demonstration, officials said the reduced rations and the lack of visits were the result of a prisoner labor shortage.
Inmates provide much of the labor force inside prisons, the department said, so the lockups eliminated one of the three meals that normally are served to compensate for the lack of workers.
Alabama prisons held more than 20,000 inmates in July, when the Department of Corrections issued its latest statistical report, despite being designed for only 12,115 people.
The Department of Justice is suing Alabama over the conditions in its 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 are so poor that they violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment and that state officials are “deliberately indifferent” to the problems.