Alabama prisons have recorded another homicide. Daniel Williams died this morning from injuries suffered during an assault at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama, two weeks ago.
His family learned from other men at Staton that their son had been assaulted in a dormitory, tied up, “rented out,” and likely sexually abused for two to three days before he was removed from the dorm and given medical treatment.
Just 22 years old, Daniel Williams was serving a 12-month prison sentence and was scheduled to be released this month.
According to Alabama Political Reporter, Staton warden Joseph Headley notified Daniel’s father, Terry Williams, and his stepmother, Taylor Bostic, on October 25 that their child was at Jackson Hospital. He told them Daniel suffered a drug overdose and was brain dead and on life support.
But when they got to the hospital, the family observed bruises and injuries on Daniel’s body, as well as marks indicating his hands had been bound.
A doctor and a nurse told Ms. Bostic there were clear signs of abuse, including “visible hand print bruises between Daniel’s legs,” APR reported. The doctor said he had never seen anything like it in his 30 years in the profession.
Ms. Bostic told APR that she learned from other men incarcerated at Staton that Daniel had been kidnapped from his dorm, bound, assaulted, and “sold out” by other incarcerated people for two or three days before he was found.
Mr. Williams was removed from life support at Jackson Hospital on Sunday. According to APR, doctors told his family if he did not die within 10 days, the warden would decide whether to return him to prison even though he would never recover.
Today, the family learned that Daniel was taken to Kilby Correctional Facility this morning and died soon after arriving. No explanation was given for the move.
“Deaths like that of Mr. Williams are tragic, preventable, and happen all too frequently in Alabama’s prisons,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “EJI receives reports from medical care providers, family members, and other incarcerated witnesses every month, about prisoners whose medical emergencies are dismissed by untrained officers as intoxication or somehow their own fault. In many of these cases, had the person been treated in time, they would have survived.”
In 2017, 35-year-old Billy Smith was taken from the healthcare unit at Staton to Jackson Hospital for what the prison said was a possible drug overdose. He never regained consciousness, was later found to have a fractured skull, and died of blunt force trauma injuries. An investigation found he had been assaulted by incarcerated people and officers at Elmore Correctional Facility. Officers then “hog-tied” him face down on a gurney and left him bleeding and vomiting for more than an hour.
Joseph Headley was the warden at Elmore at the time. He was interviewed by investigators and never reported any officer involvement. An incarcerated man and a prison guard were later charged with manslaughter in the killing of Billy Smith; Mr. Headley was transferred to the head warden position at Staton.
In 2022, Victor Russo was taken to the hospital in Birmingham after he was found unresponsive with “apparent blunt force trauma injuries” in a cell at William Donaldson Correctional Facility. He died two days later.
One day before he collapsed, Mr. Russo had written a letter to Donaldson warden Phyllis Morgan telling her that Lt. Mohammad Jenkins had repeatedly struck him in the head while he was handcuffed. Mr. Jenkins also reportedly sprayed Mr. Russo in the mouth with mace during the assault.
Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Jenkins with assaulting Mr. Russo and another man incarcerated at Donaldson. But the Alabama Department of Corrections said “foul play is not suspected” in Mr. Russo’s death and classified the death in published statistical reports as “accidental.”
The Justice Department notified Alabama in 2019 that the conditions in its prisons, created by “understaffing, culture, management deficiencies, corruption, policies, training, non-existent investigations, violence, illicit drugs, and sexual abuse,” violate the Eighth Amendment rights of incarcerated people by subjecting them to an extreme risk of harm.
Since October 2016, when federal prosecutors launched an investigation, at least 98 people have been killed in Alabama’s prisons. Hundreds more have died from preventable causes, such as suicides and drug overdoses.
ADOC still has not announced any steps being taken to reduce the violence or deaths in Alabama’s prisons.