56th Homicide in Alabama Prisons Since DOJ Opened Investigation


Prison violence has claimed the lives of two more people in Alabama’s prisons shortly before they ended their sentences.

Ian Rettig was stabbed to death on May 4 at Fountain Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. He was serving an 18-month split sentence for identity theft and property convictions. He was scheduled to be released on May 5, which was his 24th birthday.

This week EJI also received reports that a man who died on February 9 was the victim of a homicide and was strangled to death. He was serving a 30-year sentence for theft and burglary convictions and was scheduled to complete his sentence on April 20.

Tuesday’s homicide is the 56th Alabama prison homicide that EJI has documented since the U.S. Department of Justice began its investigation into the state’s prisons in October 2016. Both the number and rate of prison homicides has climbed markedly since the investigation began.

EJI has documented 27 homicides in Alabama prisons since the Justice Department released its findings on April 2, 2019, that Alabama “routinely violates the constitutional rights of prisoners” by failing to protect them from rampant violence and sexual abuse.

The Justice Department found “a high level of violence that is too common, cruel, of an unusual nature, and pervasive.”

Though the recent high rate of homicides ranks Alabama prisons among the most deadly in the country, there is evidence that the Alabama Department of Corrections undercounts the true rate of violence as it does not report prisoner deaths that are the result of officer force and has repeatedly classified homicides as deaths due to “natural” causes.